Sustainability on the menu for youngsters through new GCU initiative

Thu, 26 Aug 2021 16:19:00 BST
(Pictured above) Human Nutrition and Dietetic students presenting to the children
(Pictured above) Human Nutrition and Dietetic students presenting to the children

Six GCU students recently joined forces to help young people learn about the benefits of fruit, vegetables and a healthy diet. 

Human Nutrition and Dietetic students; Elaine Penman, Noorulain MalikDebbie WalmsleyLindsay AndersonHarry French and Lisa Singh took part in the exciting new sustainable food project set-up by GCU’s Community and Public Engagement team, in collaboration with North Glasgow Community Food Initiative (NGCFI). 

The two-day event, which took place on the 8th and 9th of August, saw the students deliver four interactive workshops to school pupils aged 10-12, at NGCFI’s Milton Hub.  

Steps to Sustainability, High Five to Gut Health, Sugar Smart and Vital Vitamins for Healthy Bones were all offered for free to families as part of a summer holiday programme, which also aimed to raise awareness ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in November 

First year student Debbie Walmsley explained more about the project and why she wanted to get involved 

She said: We picked four topics that we felt were suitable for the children in Milton. It’s quite a deprived area, so we were mindful of that aspect when selecting the four different topics. The idea was basically to educate the young people on healthy food and the benefit they provide to the human bodyIt’s obviously down to the parents to actually implement these changes to diets and  we’re aware this isn’t exactly easy but we just wanted to show how small adaptations can help. 

We also looked at the sustainability aspect because they’ve got a gardening club where they grow their own fruit and vegetables. It all fitted in really well with COP26 just around the corner. 

Debbie, who helped to deliver Steps to Sustainability and High Five to Gut Health, added: “I’ve never worked with kids before, so I got involved because I really just wanted to put myself out my comfort zone. 

I was quite nervous at first because previously all our presentations during University had been done over Zoom - where you’re basically just talking to yourself. I must admit, at first it was quite intimidating having to stand up in front of kids with them all staring back at you!” 

Despite the initial nerves, Debbie managed to find the perfect recipe for success with her workshops. 

She explained: “We started with a game of bingo, which taught them about food and sustainability. We then did a taste tester session and it featured things like hummus and veggie chips. We put them into little pots and let the children try them. There was a table where they would write about the taste, smell and if they would have it again. A few of the kids even took some of the stuff home, so it definitely went well! 

One of the other sessions actually featured a “smoothie bike”, so the kids got to cycle and it actually makes the smoothie. Basically the kids pedaling provides the power to the blender and makes it spin. It obviously incorporated the exercise aspect too, so it all linked in nicely.  

Debbie added: “The main highlight for me was definitely seeing them experience new flavours for the first time. One of the boys had never had pomegranate seeds before and he ended up taking the whole box home to his parents!  

We also made a curry with them and I think that was a lot of the children’s first experience of cooking - they were really excited by it all.” 

Getting involved provided Debbie with a much needed taste of reality after a difficult 18 months due to the pandemic. She’s delighted to have been given the experience and would encourage other students to volunteer alongside their studies. 

Debbie said: “This project provided so many opportunities to me as a first year student. It wasn’t just about building relationships with the children – there were so many opportunities to network.  

We actually got to meet some of the dieticians who help run the hub, which was hugely beneficial.  It was great to hear about their different roles and find out about the routes they’ve taken with their careers. 

She added: “Volunteering is a great way for students to meet other people and build new connectionsIt also wasn’t a big time commitment and it definitely helped that it was an area I was really interested in - it’s just about finding the right fit.  

also finally got to meet one of the girls on my course and she actually took me to dinner at her dad’s restaurant after the sessions, so that just shows getting involved in these things definitely pays off!” 


By Ross Clark       
Got an SHLS or GSBS story? Email or connect with me on Twitter