Living in such a small Island, with tight employment and housing regulations we are very much reliant on the children of today growing up to become active, healthy and educated adults, able to support the Islands’ community and economy.

Currently in Jersey, for every elderly person who draws a States of Jersey pension, there are four people in employment to support that funding[1], but by 2030, this figure will have decreased to two people in paid employment.  These are the children and young people of today, and most of whom, without intervention, won’t have the skills or knowledge needed to cook for themselves and will be unable to lead active and healthy lifestyles.  In turn they may be unable to support the future economy of Jersey and may very much be themselves dependent on the already stretched Social Security system.

Diet plays a crucial role in healthy development and the prevention of ill health in children, and the food children eat is not only crucial for physical development; it fuels their learning ability and can affect how well they concentrate at school.  In 2009, the States Business Plan set a goal of reducing obesity rates from 30% to below 10% by 2017, yet according to a report issued by the States of Jersey in February 2017[2], 20% of children in Reception are overweight including obese, which rises to 33% of children in Year 6 – these figures have risen within the last 4 years.

In Jersey, we have the highest proportion of mothers who work, in the western world (80% compared to 64% in the UK), a high cost of living, high food prices and despite the relaxed environment of beaches and Island life, a high proportion of people work long and stressful hours, often for minimum wage.  So it’s no surprise when you look at government reports such as the 2017 Opinions and Lifestyle Survey, which offer statistics such as these – [3].

  • 10% of 10-15 year olds eat nothing before going to school in the morning
  • 25% of 10-15 year olds eat their five a day
  • 10% of households have gone without fresh fruit of vegetables in the last 12 months
  • 8% of households go without a cooked main meal each day
  • 69% of people had eaten less than five portions of fruit and vegetables in the last 24 hours
  • 48% of adults feel that it is difficult to find affordable fruit and vegetables in Jersey (an increase from 44% in 2015)
  • 15% of adults feel they do not have the skills to cook meals from scratch (an increase from 14% in 2015)
  • 8% do not have the facilities to cook healthy meals (a decrease from 9% in 2015)
  • 8% don’t know what to cook to make a healthy meal** (a decrease from 9% in 2015)

Over the past 30 years, the way we shop, cook and eat means that the food we consume today is fundamentally different.   The downgrading of Home Economics from the school curriculum has had a real impact on our lives, with multiple generations of people who have left school and gone through life without being taught how to cook properly. We also work longer hours and life demands more of us, and understandably with convenience and fast foods being more readily available, people are turning to these options instead of cooking from scratch.

Today most of us will eat food which:

  • Is rarely prepared from scratch or sourced locally
  • Is rarely eaten at a table along with the rest of the family allowing the opportunity to learn social skills, feel part of a family and cementing long-term healthy eating habits
  • Is rarely healthy, balanced or nutritious

In fact for many children (and indeed adults) their staple diet is made-up of highly processed, so called convenience foods because of the environment we live in.

Who we exist to benefit

We estimate that there are between 15,000-20,000 children in the Island[4] and these children and their families[5] are who we exist to support.

Typical issues faced by some of these children’s families are:

  • Families with children arriving in the Island in hardship and needing support;
  • Parental unemployment or low pay meaning families cannot afford to eat;
  • Parents working long hours or lacking the skills to prepare nutritious meals;
  • Child carers without the resources or skills to cook;
  • Family members suffering long-term illness and;
  • Lack of hot school meal provision in primary schools meaning all children must take a lunch box to school each day

We exist to support parents and carers with children of school age, or young people up to the age of 25, who may one day become parents, who are experiencing the issues above, and who need support or education, to help them access healthy and nutritious food.

[1] Quote from Deputy Susie Pinel, Minister for Social Security at IOD Debate 2015

[2] Jersey Child Measurement Programme 2015/16

[3] Jersey Lifestyle and Opinions Survey 2017 and Children and Young People framework November 2011

[4] Population of Jersey was 100,800 at end of 2014.  Net inward migration is around 600 people per annum.  Average number of births in the Island has been growing and now stands at around 1,000 per annum and 12,000 pupils attend States of Jersey schools with the remainder in the private schools.

[5] Families defined as including parents, grand-parents, carers or guardians responsible for children