Fife children share their views on food fairness in pioneering project

Thursday 29 June 2023

The University of St Andrews School of Medicine and the Children’s Parliament have been collaborating to understand food and fairness from the perspective of children living in Fife.

Adopting a children’s rights approach, the team has been working with 12 children from P5/6 classes in Glenrothes, who have taken on the role of investigators exploring topics related to food and fairness over two months, including ‘food and me’, ‘access to food’, and ‘food and the environment’.

The young investigators conducted research with their peers in class and at break time, as well as leading and participating in workshops to explore these topics further. The work culminated in an event at Rothes Halls in Glenrothes where the children shared their work with key stakeholders working on food, health and inequalities in Fife, including NHS Fife, Fife Council, the Scottish Food Coalition and Food for Fife.

Magic Breakfast, the charity campaigning for free breakfast in all schools in Scotland, was also represented at the event, which was attended by the children’s families and teachers.

Dr Andrew James Williams, project lead from the University of St Andrews, said: “We know that food is vital for our health, especially while growing and learning. Working with the children and Children’s Parliament we have heard about the role food plays in their lives and what they want to know and understand about food.  These insights are helping us to develop research that supports children to live happy, healthy and safe lives.”

Children’s Parliament Programme Manager Kate Cuddihy added: “In both the Food and Fairness project with the University of St Andrews and other projects Children’s Parliament have been engaged with, children are sharing the same message: food needs to be accessible and affordable for families.”

Throughout the project, the children involved emphasised the affordability of food and the anxiety it can cause children and their families and have been keen to share this message with adults, with one of the children saying: “Some people can’t afford food and might not be able to have a healthy and happy life.”

The pioneering project has identified key areas for future focus and improvement regarding food and inequalities for children in Fife. Guests at the event were keen to explore children’s views in greater detail, with one stating: “We can listen to children’s views and include children in food choices at schools and other places.”

Children’s rights include a right to fairness, a right to health and a right to be heard. The Children’s Parliament has been pioneering this approach since 1996, with researchers at the University acknowledging the need for such an approach and looking to learn from the Children’s Parliament to ensure future work is rights-based. A child’s right to be listened to and taken seriously has informed this project and puts children and their views at the heart of research to improve their health. Pending United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) incorporation in Scots Law will ensure these rights are more consistently realised.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category Public interest stories

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