The problem of a growing skills shortage in the rapidly expanding chilled food sector has prompted an innovative solution from industry leaders at the Chilled Food Association (CFA).
CFA is going back to classroom, with a set of bespoke resources designed for children aged five to sixteen (KS 1-4). The expertise of teachers and food science professionals has been combined in lesson plans and resources at www.chillededuction.org. They give children a chance to experience the processes involved in getting chilled food onto our plates and into our soup bowls and lunch boxes.
Taking an interactive approach Chilled Education covers all key aspects of chilled food manufacture from new product development to labelling to hygiene. Children will learn correct hand washing skills with innovative Glo-Germ kits, and can test and share their knowledge when they get home with one of the 10,000 free fridge thermometers being given out as part of the initiative.
Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Secretary General believes the initiative is timely: “We are facing a critical situation within the chilled food industry - as one of the fastest growing sectors it is most likely to suffer from the shortage of food science graduates. And young people tend to have a negative perception of pay and working conditions in the industry, which though unfounded is having an effect. By working with children from a young age we want to inspire them, spark their curiosity in food and show them how relevant and attractive the chilled food industry is. We aim to reach over 15,000 children at more than 200 UKschools over the next 12 months and believe our initiative will be a significant contribution to the Food Supply Chain Skills Action Plan.”
A complementary set of resources for teachers is also available at www.data.org.uk/cfa, developed by CFA in partnership with the Design and Technology Association; they will help get the lessons into schools across theUK through their UK-wide network of over 6,000 design and technology teachers.
CFA is also providing STEM Ambassadors, whose network of 28,000 volunteers from the science and technology industries work with young people, to inspire interest in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).