SCHOOL children in Bishop’s Waltham and Denmead were invited to get a taste for local produce last week through food workshops sponsored by The Southern Co-operative.

Year 3 and 4 children at Bishop’s Waltham were taught about slow-release energy, seasonal eating and food miles by local home economist Davina Tibbets before tucking into some of the local produce on offer in Bishop’s Waltham High Street.

As well as the Co-ops's Local Flavours range, the children tasted local food donated by Hylands, Stainers and Atkinsons.

In Denmead, year 6 pupils learnt about striking the right balance at every meal through a talk by local nutritional therapist Annali Court. They too had the opportunity to taste some locally produced food and to learn about the benefits of buying local.

The workshops are part of a wider programme of events and activities undertaken by Winchester City Council’s market towns development officers with the financial support of The Southern Co-operative. The aim is to connect young people with their local town centres, shops and communities.

Andreea Tudor, community and campaigns coordinator for The Southern Co-operative said: “The workshops were a great opportunity for pupils to learn about food mileage and where they can buy fresh products locally. The pupils were fantastic on the day, trying new food and sharing their thoughts with us on taste and texture of food. I am hoping that this will give them the enthusiasm and appetite to try local products in the future and encourage their parents to do the same.”

Cllr Rob Humby, Portfolio Holder for Business Partnerships, said: “This initiative succeeds in teaching our young people where their food comes from and encourages them, and their parents, to make informed decisions on shopping locally.”

Both groups of school children have now been tasked with designing a new dish which incorporates local produce and reflects the things they have learnt about healthy eating. The winning dish in each case will appear on the menu at a local restaurant with some of the proceeds from sales of each dish going back to the schools to fund new cookery equipment.