Ella’s Kitchen ‘sensory food play’ truck begins UK tour, in drive to get under 5s to eat their fruit and veg!
- 19th May 2023 -
The kids’ food brand most loved by UK parents* is taking its “Eat. Play. Love” campaign on the road in an effort to bring sensory food play to early years across the country
- The Eat. Play. Love truck encourages pre-school children to use all their senses to explore different fruit and vegetables through a range of fun sensory food play activities
- The fun and colourful truck will visit nurseries across the UK, beginning with Foxcubs Nursery in Luton.
- Local MP for Luton South Rachel Hopkins will also be in attendance for the visit, to joining in the fun with the children as they explore the truck
- The Eat. Play. Love campaign also includes the publication of free educational resources for early years educators who want to use sensory food play and get little ones loving fruit and veg.
Today, Ella’s Kitchen will see its Eat. Play. Love truck make the first stop on its nationwide tour, as part of its campaign to improve childhood nutrition in the early years.
The truck, decked out with its very own broccoli wing mirrors and packed full of fun sensory activities, will visit Foxcubs Nursery in Luton to deliver the first in a series of interactive sessions designed to get little ones excited about fruit and veg, all through the power of sensory food play.
This followed a successful pilot visit to St Andrews pre-school in Caversham, where children were able to board the truck for the first time, testing out the educational sensory play activities inside, before being given a sensorial taster session where they were given opportunities to learn about, explore, and taste fruit and vegetables.
Sensory food play is a low-cost, high impact, educational tool that helps under 5s learn about fruit and vegetables by engaging all five of their senses. In fact, evidence shows children who explore fruit and vegetables using all their senses in the early years, are more likely to develop confidence, curiosity and even a liking for these foods. These preferences can last throughout early childhood and beyond, creating healthy habits and delivering all the positive long-term health benefits that diets rich in fruit and vegetables can bring.
The launch of the Eat. Play. Love truck comes after Ella’s Kitchen policy paper called on the UK Government to ensure children have access to sensory food play in all early years settings. The paper outlines how sensory food play can improve childhood nutrition after evidence showed that only 18% of children are eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day^ and that a quarter of under 5s are starting primary school already living with overweight or obesity^^.
Alongside the Eat. Play. Love tour, Ella’s Kitchen has released free educational resources and tools developed by some of the UK’s leading food education, nutrition and early years experts. Free video resources and a 5-week lesson plan will allow early years educators to continue to embed sensory food play within their settings. The resources have been developed with the guidance of the Early Years Alliance, the leading organisation for early years settings.
The Eat. Play. Love tour is just the latest initiative from Ella’s Kitchen to improve early years nutrition and follows years of campaigning as ‘the little one’s lobbyists’, founded with the mission of helping every little grow up happy, healthy and never hungry. It follows the previous successful Veg for Victory campaign, which saw NHS guidance updated to promote the importance of vegetables in weaning in 2017.
“The early years is the most important time in childhood development, yet it is so often overlooked by Government – particularly when it comes to early childhood nutrition. That’s why we joined together with food education experts from across the UK, to ask the UK Government to do more to improve the nutrition of the under 5s, by ensuring every little one has access to sensory food play.
“But as a B-Corp, we also know that we can’t just wait for Government to act. As a business, we need to be a force for good, which is why we’ve decided to take sensory food play on tour – helping as many little ones as possible to benefit sooner, rather than later. We’ll be visiting early years settings across the country, with a particular focus on settings that serve little ones from less affluent backgrounds – because the evidence shows that it is those little ones who will benefit the most.
“And we know that there’s already growing public support for this and the need to act when it comes to childhood nutrition- last year following the publication of our policy paper, almost 5000 families from right across the UK came together to write to their local MP in support of the campaign. Our hope is that this tour will help more settings embed sensory food play into their curriculums, helping more little ones develop the healthy relationships with food they need to thrive, while inspiring Government to act.”
CEO of Ella’s Kitchen
“We’re delighted to be the first stop on Ella’s Kitchens sensory food play truck tour. As an early years manager, I know how important it is to ensure that children understand how important a balanced diet is from a young age.
“The truck provides a unique opportunity for the children to not only learn more about fruit and vegetables by using all their senses but also the role that they have in living a healthy life.”
Early years practitioners can download the resources for free from the resource hub here https://www.ellaskitchen.co.uk... . Interested early years settings can also register their interest in arranging a visit from the truck by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acting manager at Foxcubs Nursery
“As soon as we saw the truck, I knew the children were in for a treat! There were so many fun and educational activities for the children to try, and it was fantastic to see them so engaged. I loved watching them sniffing the fruit and vegetables and describing the smells with words like ‘yummy’ and even ‘sour’ - showing how these activities have the wider benefit of helping to develop children’s language skills. Watching the children taste the food was amazing too – especially for those who were more reluctant in the beginning. You could really see how these activities can help make children more comfortable to try different fruit and vegetables.
“It’s also fantastic to have the resources to help us continue teaching the children about healthy food choices. The training videos help break down the activities, while the lesson plans are engaging, fun, and easily adaptable for different learning needs. I’m really looking forward to incorporating them into the curriculum”.
Manager at St Andrew’s Pre-school, Caversham
“I was delighted to visit Foxcubs Nursery for the launch of the Ella’s Kitchen Eat. Play. Love. truck. Sensory food play is an exciting innovation in early years education, and it was a pleasure to watch the children enjoy exploring fruit and vegetables with all their senses. The curiosity and interest I saw from the children shows the benefits that sensory food play can have in helping them develop a healthy relationship with food”.
“The early years are the most important time for dietary intervention, where lifelong habits are set, and I’m grateful for the work Ella’s Kitchen is doing to improve childhood nutrition. Every child in Luton deserves the best start in life and I was glad to welcome the Eat. Play. Love. truck to our town for their first visit. I look forward to seeing their progress across the UK as they take sensory food play on the road”.
MP for Luton South
^NHS Digital. (2019). Health Survey for England, 2018: Children’s health. NHS Digital. Available at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-an...
^^NHS Digital. (2021). National Child Measurement Programme, England 2020/21 School Year. NHS Digital. Available at: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-an... national-child-measurement-programme/2020-21-school-year/age#chapter-index
more news stories
Action for Children and Ella's Kitchen Partnership
We’re proud to be partnering with Action for Children to help support vulnerable children and their families across the UK.
Read more >
ELLA’S KITCHEN LAUNCHES NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO GET CHILDREN PLAYING WITH FOOD
Ella’s Kitchen has launched a nationwide campaign calling on the UK government to take urgent action to improve early childhood nutrition.
Read more >