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Survey: Kids want to help in the kitchen more than parents realise

VicHealth activation to help kids explore where food comes from

3 Jun 2024
Media Release 5 min read
Two kids wearing gum boots playing in a toy kitchen. A sign at the back says "Kitchen Capers"
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A new survey from health promotion foundation VicHealth has found that kids get more enjoyment from helping out in the kitchen and learning where food comes from than many parents realise.

It comes as an engaging new activation exploring how fruit and vegetables go from the farm to the worm farm opens at the Melbourne Museum this weekend.

Developed by VicHealth, in partnership with Museums Victoria, the Secret World of Food pop-up is a fun way for young kids and their families to explore the journey of fresh food together.

Kids eager to help in the kitchen

Through the Kitchen Connections survey, VicHealth asked 500 kids aged 4 to 12 in Victoria how much they want to get involved with food-related activities at home – around 9 in 10 said they want to help plan family meals and pack their lunchboxes, and that they enjoy learning where food comes from.

But their parents’ perceptions of how much their kids wanted to help with these activities was lower:

  • around 6 in 10 parents thought their child liked helping pack their lunch box,
  • and around 7 in 10 thought their kids liked helping plan meals, and learning where food comes from.

VicHealth Executive Manager of Social Marketing and Communications Rebecca Ahern said the survey presents a big opportunity for parents to embrace their kids’ curiosity in food.

“We know parents want their kids to have a healthy, positive relationship with food, and our survey shows that young kids want to help in the kitchen, so it’s a win-win situation,” Rebecca said.

“We know it can get messy, but asking kids to get involved with tasks like packing their lunch, planning family meals and disposing of food scraps, it can build a love of and appreciation for good food, now and into the future.”

Secret World of Food activation unveiled

From today, kids can become food explorers as the Secret World of Food activation at Melbourne Museum.

“In this fun, engaging experience, kids are encouraged to use their imagination to pick ‘vegetables’ and take them on a very important adventure – from the farm to the market and then into the kitchen,” Rebecca said.

“It’s a perfect place for young kids and their families to learn about where food comes from and how it connects us to other people and the world around us.”

Equipped with a food passport, kids collect stamps as they move through various stages of the food cycle – from growing, to delivery, to buying and selling at the market, cooking in the kitchen and then reusing food or putting scraps in the compost.

Lynley Crosswell, CEO and Director, Museums Victoria, said “Museums Victoria is proud to partner with VicHealth on this important program harnessing the power of play to enhance children’s understanding of the food cycle. 

“As trusted institutions, our museums are dedicated to promoting healthier lifestyles and wellbeing. We invite families to explore the Secret World of Food.”

Melbourne Demons player Ben Brown and his wife Hester are throwing their support behind the initiative. Ben said enjoying fresh, healthy food is central to his life on and off the field. 

“As a football player, fuelling my body with fresh, healthy food is crucial,” Ben said.

“The same applies at home – our family is really passionate about good food. Even though life is busy, we like to eat meals together whenever we can, and get the girls involved in cooking and meal prep. We like to try new recipes and flavours with them, food is a great way to connect and bond as a family.”  

Food for Health Alliance Executive Manager Jane Martin said initiatives like this are even more important right now, when kids are heavily targeted with marketing for unhealthy food.

“Our kids are bombarded with marketing for highly processed unhealthy food every day – it influences what our children eat, want to eat and what they ask for,” Jane said.

“We need to do all we can to find new and creative ways, like this activation, to help kids enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables, and surround them with positive messages about healthy food.”


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Note to Editor

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The Secret World of Food is open in the ground floor foyer area of Melbourne Museum from 11am to 3pm across 3 weekends in June:

  • Saturday 8 to Monday 10 June
  • Saturday 15 to Sunday 16 June
  • Saturday 22 to Sunday 23 June.

Entry is included in Melbourne Museum entry ticket price (free for kids aged up to 16). Learn more: museumsvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum/whats-on/secret-world-of-food

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More key stats from the Kitchen Connections survey

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  • More than half of kids surveyed said the social aspect is what they liked most about family mealtimes – “cuddles with mum”, “laughs with dad” and “creating memories” were noted by kids as highlights. The food was less of a factor, with 1 in 4 saying they like ‘eating the same foods as my family’ and 1 in 6 liked ‘trying new foods with my family’.
  • The vast majority of parents (94%) want their child to have a healthy relationship with food
  • Only half (54%) of parents who compost at home think their child likes helping with composting, when in reality 8 in 10 kids (82%) say they want to help.

The Kitchen Connections survey was conducted online in May 2024. It involved 500 parents and their kids (aged 4 to 12 years) across regional and metro Victoria.

 

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About VicHealth

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As a world-first health promotion foundation, VicHealth is focused on promoting good health and preventing chronic disease. A key part of this is to make it easier for all Victorians to access healthy, fresh food.

We’re working to transform our food system through partnerships with local government, advocating for policy change, protecting the community from industries that sell harmful products and investing in groundbreaking research and programs. Learn more at vichealth.vic.gov.au/programs-and-projects/about-the-food-systems

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
This website may contain images, names and voices of deceased people.

VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.