Diet plays a crucial role in healthy development and the prevention of ill health in children.  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.  Yet according to the Young People’s Health and Lifestyle Survey (compiled by States of Jersey in 2014) at least 18% of young people in Jersey are overweight (or obese), only 1 in 5 young people eat their full intake of 5 fruits and vegetables a day and there is an increasing trend for children to arrive at school with empty stomachs.

The statistics don’t just end there.  According to the Jersey Annual Social Survey 2015:

  • 45% of islanders are having difficulty making ends meet
  • 44% of adults feel that it is difficult to find affordable fruit and vegetables in Jersey
  • 46% of adults feel they do not have the skills to cook meals from scratch
  • 24% do not have the facilities to cook healthy meals and 29% don’t know what to cook to make a healthy meal

Within the States of Jersey Health and Social Services business plan one of the key objectives is:  “Improved health outcomes by reducing the incidence of mortality, disease and injury in the population”. Unfortunately, the key States activities in 2015 were mainly focused on older people and treating disease.  There is virtually no support that targets children to eat well and develop healthy lifestyles, which would be an effective way to prevent problems later in their lives, and could potentially alleviate the pressure on our local Health system.

Against this backdrop we see an imperative to act now to positively empower and influence the future health of our Island’s children and young people.  We estimate that there are between 15,000-20,000 children in the Island[1] and these children and their families[2] are our target constituency.  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

These families are our priority.

[1] 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.

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