Sudbury leading way to get kids to eat fruit

UNITED CAUSE: Sudbury firefighters, supermarket and leisure centre staff join forces to help children eat healthy. ANL-160420-145857001
UNITED CAUSE: Sudbury firefighters, supermarket and leisure centre staff join forces to help children eat healthy. ANL-160420-145857001

Ambitious plans to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables are being trialled in Sudbury, led by the town’s firefighters.

For a week commencing June 20, you may find your apple has a sticker with colourful characters on it, rather than a traditional Granny Smith logo, for example.

As part of a joint plan between Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), Suffolk County Council and local supermarkets, traditional fruit stickers will be replaced with colourful versions, with fun characters on them to try to make fruit a more appealing choice for children.

The normal information will still be included, but organisers of the Fruit ‘n’ Pledge scheme hope the fun logos will make fruit a more popular choice, with the stickers being collected and then swapped for a free swim at the local swimming pool.

Sudbury firefighter Andy Message, supported by SFRS alongside the county council, is, leading the project, with support from local shops and supermarkets and the Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury.

“We want to try an experiment in Sudbury to see if we can maybe change attitudes towards healthy eating by marketing positive actions with characters and collectible stickers and try and make the fruit and veg aisles more appealing to children and parents,” said Mr Message.

“If it works then maybe the supermarkets can take it on to their marketing departments and take it forward.”

Mr Message is hopeful schools will take part in the project with the aim being that children can collect the stickers on special cards which, when full, can be exchanged for a free swim at the Kingfisher Leisure Centre swimming pool.

He said he was very hopeful that the social experiment, which is a first of its kind in Suffolk, would be successful.

Research shows 22 per cent of children aged four to five in Suffolk are overweight or obese and this figure rises to more than 31 per cent at the ages of 10-11.

“We are trying to pretend for one week this is how they label up fruit and veg,” said Mr Message.

“They are already putting the labels on, we are just making them more appealing.”

The Co-operative Food in Great Cornard along with Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco in Sudbury are taking part in the scheme, with Mr Message looking for more shops to get involved.

Mel Edwards from Tesco said: “We want to get involved in positive community events but the healthy eating and children side of this is massive for us. This is something really exciting.”

Natalie Lockyer from Sainsbury’s added: “We want to encourage healthy eating as much as possible and support kids to get together in a common goal.”

To ensure the scheme gets off the ground the organisers need volunteers to help out.

“We have to put stickers on all the fruit for one week so we really need people to help out and spare a few hours if they can,” said Mr Message.

If you can support the scheme please email fruitandpledge@suffolk.gov.uk.