Skip to main content
GrowersHelp your business growResearch reports, publications, fact sheets and more Tools and interventions for increasing children’s vegetable knowledge (VG16064)
Ongoing project

Tools and interventions for increasing children’s vegetable knowledge (VG16064)

Key research provider: CSIRO

What’s it all about?

This investment is identifying new ways of supplying vegetables to children, helping growers better serve the key consumer market of families with young kids.

As part of the work, researchers are developing best practice guidelines to increase vegetable knowledge, and a national online hub of vegetable educational sites and materials. The current dietary advice for children will also be updated, using evidence-based knowledge of flavour exposure and food preference development, to help vegetable acceptance. On top of that, vegetable education initiatives will be delivered in settings such as at daycare centres and early primary school facilities.

Over the past six months, the project team have progressed in the following areas.

Online resources

Ongoing activity to gather research and initiatives to be uploaded onto the registry has been maintained during this reporting period. This has consisted of mapping of initiatives, researchers and organisations who have completed projects related to children’s vegetable intake

Cross-sector collaboration

The Vegetable Intake Strategic Alliance (VISA) continued, with two online meetings held in this reporting period. Members have participated as a network of champions by sharing VegKIT outcomes through their contacts and communication channels. VegKIT continues to champion vegetable intakes as a forum for members’ reporting related activities in meetings. Continued engagement with the Fruit & Vegetable Consortium was established.

Best-practice community initiatives for long day care settings

Controlled trial testing in an online package of initiatives to promote children’s vegetable intake in long day care showed that an educator combined with curriculum initiatives were found to be the optimum package producing a meaningful increase in vegetable intake equal to or exceeding that seen in the literature. 

Canteen intervention trial to increase students’ vegetable consumption

The canteen intervention experienced significant COVID-delays with the decision to move the study until Term 1 of 2022. A such, a new canteen menu for 2022 was introduced by the canteen operator and revised plans for remaining tasks have been developed.

Dissemination of project outputs

Further dissemination of project outputs of the industry was undertaken. Read about the CAMPOV model in the Vegetables Australia Summer 2021 edition, page 47.

The project team continues to report progress over the past six months.

Online resources

Backend improvement work for the Resource Registry has continued, as well as implementation of a system for gathering research and initiatives for upload to the registry. This consisted of mapping initiatives, researchers and organisations who have completed projects related to children’s vegetable intake and contacting them to encourage participation. The procedure of contacting reviewers once an initiative is submitted was also finalised, ensuring a seamless and consistent process for each submission. 

Cross-sector collaboration

The Vegetable Intake Strategic Alliance (VISA) continued to hold quarterly meetings (virtually). Members have participated as a network of champions by sharing VegKIT outcomes through their contacts and communication channels. VegKIT continues to champion vegetable intakes as a forum for members’ reporting related activities in meetings. Strong connection to the nascent Fruit & Vegetable Consortium was established.

Maternal, infant and early years advice

A review Supporting vegetable acceptance in the early years of life (0 – 5 years): an umbrella review of systematic reviews was published in The American Journal Clinical Nutrition in April 2021, with an associated media release generating print and radio media coverage.

The team launched a multifaceted policy and stakeholder engagement strategy to influence policy development, which will be supported as an ongoing project component.

Best-practice community initiatives for long day care settings

The initiatives for long day care were tested in two controlled trials, to identify the most effective combination of community initiatives. The findings are being evaluated and will be reported in the team’s next update.

Industry innovations and early primary school settings

A consumer acceptance test evaluating vegetable-based prototypes with 105 children was undertaken, testing Rainbow dippers (a snack-pack consisting of a vegetable-based dip with raw vegetable sticks) and vegetable ice blocks. Both had appeal with children, with the data analysed and related to the sensory data collected previously. An article about the research is being prepared for publication in the coming months.

A randomised controlled trial to study the effects on vegetable sales in primary school canteens received ethical approvals from the NSW Department of Education (SERAP) and Diocese of Parramatta (Catholic schools). The study was prospectively registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry with the number ACTRN12621000564853.

Sixteen schools (11 public and 5 Catholic) have been recruited into the study, with all canteens being serviced by a commercial canteen operator. Informed consent was provided by the principal of each school and the canteen manager. Baseline data (canteen sales, vegetable waste) has been collected in School Term 2 of 2021.

ACT NOW

Access project resources at the VegKIT website, including the Resource Registry.

Over the past six months, the project team have progressed in the following areas.

Best practice user guides and online resources

Best practice user guides and resources were launched, along with the refreshed VegKIT website in October 2020, with positive engagement across the site and content. A media release, media kit and social media campaign were used to publicise the website and launch the new evidence-based user guides. These resources will continue to be shared via project partner and key stakeholder events and channels.

Improvements to the Resource Registry continued, with 19 initiatives now available and more to be added. The reviewer panel is comprised primarily of academics from universities across Australia with expertise in areas such as maternal and childhood nutrition, obesity prevention, eating behaviours and feeding practices, public health nutrition, food consumption patterns and nutritional epidemiology. With the website refresh now complete, promotion of the Registry will be expanded.

Best-practice community initiatives for long day care settings

Three initiatives for long day care best practice were developed:

  • Cooks training: Long Day Care online training and FoodChecker menu assessment tool (licensed from the Victorian Government with adoption partner HEAS)
  • Educators mealtime training: ‘Encouraging healthy eating in long day care’ online training for educators (developed in partnership with HEAS)
  • Curriculum: ‘Taste & LearnTM for Early Years’ curriculum

These are now ready for testing in a controlled trial, planned for March 2021, under strict protocols.

Collaborative, multi-sector approach

The Vegetable Intake Strategic Alliance (VISA) continued to successfully host quarterly meetings throughout 2020, sharing information, updates and research outcomes in support of industry and project objectives.

ACT NOW

Access project resources at the VegKIT website, including the Resource Registry.

Read about VegKIT in recent media coverage:

Best practice guidelines

A series of stakeholder workshops were held, aimed at assessing and understanding how the guidelines are perceived and work within different audiences. Insight gathered from these sessions led to the existing user guides being updated plus the development of improved support materials to help enhance adoption, both of which will be released shortly.

Online resources and national initiatives

Launched at the end of February 2020, the team continued to add to its online registry which currently lists 18 research and community initiatives focused on increasing children’s vegetable intake. Each initiative has been assessed and rated for alignment to the Best Practice Guidelines.

The team also refreshed the VegKIT website for improved user experience and simpler navigation.

Community and supply chain initiatives

Menu kits, menu assessment tools, educator training, lesson plans and teaching resources for long day care settings continue to be developed, with plans for a controlled trial to identify the most effective combination of these for increased vegetable intake.

Three virtual workshops were held for industry supply chain partners, sharing information about a new sensory science framework for the development of vegetable-based products for children. A supporting report was also provided to participants, which included food manufacturers, retailers, fresh produce suppliers, growers, peak industry bodies, public health organisations and academics.

ACT NOW

The VegKIT website contains free tools and resources to designed to help educators, health professionals and research organisations increase children’s vegetable intake.

This five-year project is to deliver an integrated program of activities with the aim to increase children’s intake of vegetables by more than half a serve per day.

Known as VegKIT the project is designed to provide a collection of practical tools and resources, including best practice guidelines for designing and implementing initiatives, to increase children’s vegetable intake. It includes online resources, the Vegetable Intake Strategic Alliance (VISA) to facilitate collaboration across sectors, and dietary advice for maternal, infant and early childhood years.

The project team are progressing in the following areas of activity.

  • A national online register and VegKIT has been launched in time for when school starts in February 2020
  • Best practice guidelines have been updated based on the latest scientific literature, translating this information into strategies for implementation by different stakeholders
  • The Vegetable Intake Strategic Alliance (VISA) is focusing on new vegetable initiatives and communications strategies. The alliance was established to capture a wide range of stakeholders including the horticulture industry, State and Commonwealth departments, nutrition and health agencies, research organisations, retailers, early learning and parenting organisations, and various non‐government organisations.
  • Research into dietary advice for maternal, infant and early years continues using evidence-based learnings regarding flavour exposure and food preference development:
    • A review of relevant literature and set of evidence knowledge-based statements have been identified for maternal health.
    • A series of vegetable-containing food concepts were tested and evaluated in focus groups, with the results to be used for the development of prototypes.
    • Primary School canteen menu analysis was undertaken with options to increase vegetable offerings identified. Opportunities will be discussed further with supply chain partners.

ACT NOW

Access VegKIT’s free resources for educators, health professionals and research agencies with the aim to increase children’s vegetable intake.

Related levy funds
Details

This project is a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund