The British Cheese Board (BCB) and TV chef Peter Sidwell have launched a new campaign which is guaranteed to make your child's lunchbox cheesier and healthier.
To celebrate the launch of their new campaign, Cheese Makes a Difference to Healthy Lunchboxes, the BCB and Peter Sidwell hosted a children's cookery class in a primary school to teach children some of the simple and tasty ways to incorporate cheese into their lunchboxes.
Peter Sidwell has created a range of delicious cheesy lunchbox ideas, including tortilla stars with cheesy dip; cheese and pepperoni twists; savoury cheese muffins and pizza quesadillas, to show that a cheesy lunch can be so much more than a cheese sandwich.
The campaign was designed following a recent survey commissioned by the BCB amongst 500 children and parents to find out just how much the nation knows and likes about cheese. The results showed that over 20% of children eat cheese every day and 45% eat it every other day. Only 1% of children surveyed said they never ate cheese – showing just how popular cheese is.
Cheddar is especially loved by children, with 63% ranking it as their favourite cheese. Over a quarter of children surveyed said that cheese was their favourite lunchbox filling, whereas 31% said it was their favourite food and 40% voted cheese as their favourite sandwich filling.
Some other interesting survey results include:
Peter Sidwell said: "I really hope parents find my recipes useful and informative, and more importantly I hope children enjoy them. We all love a classic cheese sandwich but what we are trying to achieve through this campaign is to show that we can do so much more with cheese. Whether it's a quesadilla or some cheesy dumplings, my recipes will demonstrate some creative and healthy ways of incorporating more cheesy choices into our children's lunchboxes.
"Today has been a great day – we had a wonderful time with the kids during our cooking class and I have no doubt they will enjoy these new cheesy choices for their lunchboxes."
The nutritional aspect of cheese is often disregarded by the misconception that cheese is bad for you, with 22% of children surveyed believing this to be true as cheese contains fat. However, encouragingly almost half of the children surveyed recognised that cheese was good for you because it is packed full of calcium.
Cheese is not only a great source of calcium, but it is also packed with phosphorous, both of which help to maintain strong teeth and healthy bones, as well as protein which is essential for children's growth and development and Vitamin B12 which is important for the immune system.
Dr Judith Bryans, Chief Executive of Dairy UK, said: "We are delighted to launch our Cheese Makes a Difference to a Healthy Lunchbox campaign today. It is a real pleasure to work with Peter again after our successful cheesy salad campaign this summer and to get his creative input on how to use cheese in lunchboxes.
"Every parent is concerned about their child's nutritional intake and cheese is an ideal way to make sure they're on the right road to meet dairy requirements for calcium, protein, Vitamin B12 and phosphorous – all of which are vital to a young child's development. Cheese is a nutritious and versatile food that can be part of any meal to help meet children's nutritional needs.
"Our survey confirms that cheese remains a staple of the UK diet, with 99% of children eating cheese at least once a week. With so many great British cheeses available, it is very easy for parents to pick their children's favourite as a tasty and healthy addition to their lunchbox.
"I would like to thank Colham Manor Primary School for taking part in our cheesy lunchbox cookery class, it is fantastic to get such positive engagement from teachers and parents."
Mr Simon Hawley, Headteacher at Colham Manor Primary School, added: "As a school, we are working hard to encourage our pupils to bring in healthy, balanced packed lunches – and cheese is an important part of that. Research also states that dairy produce is important for a child's development.
"It was evident today that cheese is not just a healthy addition to a child's lunchbox, but it is tasty and versatile. I look forward to seeing some more cheesy lunchboxes with a balance of different food groups around the school in the near future."
The campaign, Cheese Makes a Difference to Healthy Lunchboxes, is part of an umbrella campaign to promote British cheese and supports the industry's overarching Dairy Makes a Difference initiative.
The BCB will be hosting a social media competition for children and their parents to post a picture of their cheesy lunchbox using the hashtag #CheeseMAD for the chance to win a free iPad.
Peter Sidwell's cheesy lunchbox recipes can be downloaded at www.britishcheese.com/campaigns/lunchboxes where full survey results can also be viewed.