Sainsbury’s to make veg more appealing and accessible
Photos courtesy of Sainsbury's

UK government will trial vouchers for fruits, vegetables given by general practitioners

Produce Business report

As part of the 12-step Levelling Up plan by the UK government to improve underserved communities and the nation as a whole, general practitioners will be able to grants food vouchers for fruits and vegetables in some communities during a three-year trial called Community Eatwell.

The strategy, which has worked with great success in one part of the United States in getting individuals to consume more fresh produce and reduce 50% of patients’ weight over a five-year period, is one the many schemes to the UK is launching to try to improve the health of Britons as a whole and children who are suffering from obesity.

“For decades, too many communities have been overlooked and undervalued,” said Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove. “As some areas have flourished, others have been left in a cycle of decline. The UK has been like a jet firing on only one engine. Levelling Up is about ending this historic injustice. This will not be an easy task, and it won’t happen overnight, but our missions will drive real change in towns and cities across the UK.”

A Food Strategy White Paper on wellness is expected to be released soon, outlining the strategies based on Henry Dimbelby’s review of a National Food Strategy that aims to improve access to healthy food and overall outcomes through better diets.

One of the most worthwhile initiatives is the £200m per year Holiday Activities and Food Programme, which combines engaging education materials along with healthful food for families and children. Another project led by the Department for Education and the Food Standards Agency starting in September in four locales – Blackpool, Lincolnshire, Plymouth and Nottingham – will ensure “accountability and transparency of school food arrangements by encouraging schools to complete a statement on their school websites, which sets out their whole school approach to food.” UK leaders want to make sure students have the skills necessary to not only identify and choose healthy foods but also learn how to cook and be healthy.

In all the government plans to spend as much as £5m in launching “a school cooking revolution, including the development of brand new content for the curriculum and providing bursaries for teacher training and leadership.” Interestingly, the plan is that every students who matriculates through secondary school be able to work from five basic recipes.

But the major development is Community Eatwell, a byproduct of the obesity epidemic gripping the UK. The three-year programme also will an educational component and social assistance for those who have “diet-related illness or food insecurity.” According to one study, those who live in impoverished areas of England has lifespan that is 18 years less than their counterparts in more affluent regions. Diet is just one factor, along with alcohol and smoking, which UK officials also are targeting through its new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities.

In Wolverhampton, individuals who commit to boosting their physical activity while maintaining a healthy diet – through a wrist-worn device and app –will receive rewards. In all, the government plans to invest £75m toward weight management services and support through the end of the year. By 2030, the hope is that through all of the initiatives, including pay boosts and innovations, that lifespan projections can improve by at least five years.



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