On the occasion of Taste Week, which took place 12th-16th October 2020, SAPERE Les Classes du Goût association launched the first phase of its taste education training for nursery workers.
We have in effect set up a partnership with the Early Years service of the town of Senlis, aiming, firstly, to raise awareness among nursery workers of the importance of integrating taste education into their daily activities with toddlers(18 to 36 months old), and secondly, to train them in our taste education method.
During Taste Week we met the Early Years service managers along with the nursery workers. We asked them about the challenges they encounter in their work and about their needs in terms of taste education. With the children present, we were able to demonstrate our approach using typical activities based on play and sensory experimentation.
In those morning sessions, the children and the nursery workers (re)discovered the apple in all its forms and all its colours. Apples are an ideal fruit – rich and varied, reassuring for children – for talking about taste while taking into account issues around access to healthy, tasty and seasonal food.
This training programme for childhood professionals is supported by the Hauts-de-France DRAAF (Regional Directorate-General of Food, Agriculture and Forests), as part of the regional implementation of the National Food Plan.
Ratatouille & Cabrioles (R&C) is a three-year intervention consisting of sessions run collaboratively by CODES 83 project managers and the educational teams for children in pre-school settings in priority neighbourhoods. Families are involved in order to cut across different areas of the children’s lives. In 2018-19, R&C ran across 36 schools, involving 213 teachers, 106 teaching assistants, 1449 parents and 3331 benefiting children; there were 529 co-delivered classroom sessions and 74 interactions with parents in the form of discussions or parent-child workshops.
An outcomes assessment for the final-year pre-school children (4-5 years old) was carried out based on the protocol developed by Caroline Reverdy (2008), Edusens Project and Association SAPERE Classes du Goût, which aims in particular to reduce food neophobia through verbalisation and improving vocabulary.
The statistical analysis reveals that the children in the R&C project (123 children) talked less subjectively than the control children (96 children) – meaning they had a more realistic view of the foods they tasted. They were less influenced by their individual representations and their personal attraction (hedonism) to the food offered. So the children become agents of their sensory experience, which can be an indicator for reducing food neophobia, very present at that age.
After responding to a call for projects, SAPERE Les Classes du Goût has been selected by the Hauts de France DRAAF (Directorate-General of Food, Agriculture and Forests) to take part in implementing one of the priority areas of the National Food Programme: “Developing food education for young people and enhancing food heritage”.
Our association is proud and very lucky to be able, through this project, to raise awareness of and deploy the SAPERE METHOD for taste education, by offering to train willing school teachers, trainers, key workers and canteen staff in the Hauts de France region.
In conjunction with the various forms of academic learning that we’ve been developing for many years, this original, interactive method allows children and teenagers to discover food diversity, to get to know their sensory profile better and to become more open to accepting difference.
We hope the project will be a success that we can talk more about here.
As with all industrialised countries, Switzerland has an aging population. With more than 18.7% senior citizens today, in 2040 the proportion in our country will be more than 25% (Federal Statistics Office, 2019). In Switzerland, the malnutrition rate amongst older people is 5% for people at home aged between 65 and 79 years old, and 10% for people aged 80 and above (Morisod, 2010).
The challenge of “aging well” is therefore hugely important. Staying in good health for as long as possible is a major public health issue. To achieve this, it’s important to ensure the quality of life needed to maintain older people’s autonomy (Escalon & Francois, 2010).
In light of this situation, in 2015 the Swiss canton of Valais put in place a cantonal action plan (PAC) for the promotion of health for the elderly, called Plateform 60+, on behalf of the Public Health Service. Co-funded by Promotion Santé Suisse and Promotion Santé Valais, the PAC includes themed modules for seniors about diet and physical activity, mental health, preparing for retirement, and substance abuse. Amongst the essentials for older people’s autonomy and health, diet plays a critical role. The Senso5 Foundation  was tasked with developing tools for a project called “Diet, autonomy, quality of life for seniors”.
Malnutrition-related risks increase with age. Unfortunately, these risks are too rarely taken into account and once malnutrition has been diagnosed, it is often difficult to re-establish a good nutritional state. Malnutrition has multiple consequences, but often it starts with weight loss and fatigue, a weakening of the immune system and various infections (urinary, pulmonary), but also loss of muscle mass, which can lead to dizziness and loss of balance.
Alongside malnutrition, dehydration is an equally widespread problem amongst the elderly. In Switzerland about 20% of people aged over 75 years old drink less than a litre of fluids a day, whereas the Swiss Nutrition Society recommends one to two litres a day (Federal Office of Statistics, 2015).
Malnutrition and dehydration are two conditions that can have severe consequences for health as well as independence and quality of life. Generally, those affected have to be hospitalised and then placed in nursing homes, due to slow recovery and loss of autonomy. Action to prevent these conditions is therefore important to enable people to stay at home as long as possible.
This led Senso5 Foundation to create tools to reduce the risks of malnutrition and dehydration, thanks to collaboration with the relevant professionals and caregivers working with seniors.
These tools include a brochure called “Plates and Trainers, more pleasure in retirement”, published in French and German, which shares recommendations for diet and movement, as well as practical tips for organising the kitchen and preventing accidents in the home. With accessible, non-stigmatising information and lots of pictures, this brochure is aimed at seniors and those close to them, but also at professionals who want to build their knowledge or use it more in their work.
Two digital tools are also available on the Foundation’s website (www.senso5.ch). The first lets anyone test their senses using a questionnaire. It then provides tailored advice based on the answers given, to help limit sensory decline or find alternatives to this decline. The second tool offers tips for the kitchen and a range of healthy recipes for seniors. The recipes can be adapted for different numbers of people (two or four) and ways of measuring ingredients (based on grams or utensils). The recipes are organised into categories (for example, quick dishes, stews, cooking with leftovers….), and new recipes are added regularly.
Lastly, Senso5 Foundation has developed 15 educational videos about the food challenges that can affect seniors. Filmed as a dialogue between a senior in their own kitchen and another adult, the videos cover various topics, such as kitchen hygiene, appetite, digestion problems or mobility. These short segments are designed for the general public and use a light-hearted but professional tone by involving experts to explain or go further into the various themes.
To complete these tools and optimise malnutrition prevention by raising awareness among relevant professionals, training sessions are delivered in health centres and various other institutions (health-related universities, ongoing training, day centres). There is a particular focus on training these multipliers, as with their experience on the ground and the challenges they encounter on a daily basis, they are invaluable informers and actors of prevention among seniors. Thanks to collaboration and communication across disciplines, all stakeholders can contribute with the shared goal of maintaining the autonomy and quality of life of seniors as long as possible.
Through its work, Senso5 Foundation wants seniors to be actors of their own diets, as much in relation to the choice of what’s on their plate, as around the daily management of this food (including preparation). In this way Senso5 Foundation acts at different levels, taking into account individual needs, by analysing the situation and making arrangements to enable autonomy.
Achmann N, Burla L, Kohler D. (2015) La santé en Suisse – Le point sur les maladies chroniques Rapport national sur la santé 2015. Observatoire suisse de la santé, Neuchâtel
Escalon, H. & Beck, F. (2010). Perceptions, connaissances et comportements en matière d’alimentation: Les spécificités des seniors. Gérontologie et société, vol. 33 / 134(3), 13-29.
Morisod, J. (2011). Dénutrition de la personne âgée. Revue Médicale Suisse, 279(3), 209-210.
On behalf of the Sapere International board, I would like to wish all of you in our growing Sapere network a happy and healthy 2020.
A number of new members have joined us during 2019, a year that also included a deeply interesting and well-arranged Sapere Symposia, hosted by the TastEd team in Cambridge in October. We do get stronger evidence that taste education/sensory training is climbing higher on the ”sustainable food habits agenda” in more and more countries.
The next boardmeeting will be held in the beginning of March. If you as a member have a question you think we should cover in this meeting please send your suggestion by email to me before February 14th.
We are honored to announce we’ve been given the excellence prize in the field of early childhood education and care of the 68th Yomiuri Education Award 2019 for our activities.
Our activities are called the promotion of health and communication through taste classes, with enhanced five senses focus for 2- and 3 year-old children.
The Yomiuri Education Award is one of the most distinguished awards in the field of education in Japan.
Even though our activities are still limited to seven nurseries and one kindergarten in Kyoto, we are very much encouraged by the award to promote taste classes using the SAPERE method in Japan in the future.
Thank you Bee Wilson from TastEd for this great summary.
We’ve never had two days quite like it. We sniffed mint and we sipped seaweed broth from Japan. We tasted crunchy and quiet foods with headphones on. We heard about taste schools in Norway and the Netherlands and portion sizes in Singapore. We learned that every meal is an education. We listened to singing waiters. We ate celeriac which tasted like roast beef and roasted white chocolate which tasted like caramel. We made new friendships and celebrated old ones.
TastEd was honoured to host the eighth annual Sapere symposium in Jesus College Cambridge on 24th and 25th October. We were happy to welcome around fifty delegates from Sweden, Finland and Norway, from France and the Netherland, from Japan and Singapore, from the Czech Republic and Canada. Over the course of these few days, we heard from chefs and educators, from psychologists and policy experts all of whom were considering the role that sensory food education might play in changing a child’s diet for the better. Over the course of the two days, it became clear that Sapere is now a growing global network – and that this work is needed now more than ever.
Our theme for the two days was preference change and the role that preference can play in helping children to eat a healthier diet. In Professor Corinna Hawkes’s superb keynote lecture on preference and policy, we heard that preference formation has been neglected by mainstream food policy. Professor Hawkes argued that taste education is an essential component in a complex suite of policies that should be used to address the causes of child obesity. By itself, it wouldn’t be enough. Policies are also needed to make healthy food more available, normal and affordable and to remove the obstacles to consuming healthy foods (such as junk food marketing). But a child who does not have a preference for healthy foods is unlikely to eat them, even when they are affordable and available.
On the first day, the talks were all in the Frankopan Hall at Jesus College. We heard from head teacher Jason O’Rourke about the work he is doing at Washingborough to change children’s palates. Another superb talk was from Dr Lucy Cooke who pioneered the ‘Tiny Tastes’ method to help children overcome pickiness about vegetables. Dr Cooke emphasised the large body of evidence that positive exposure is the key to forming – and changing – a child’s relationship with vegetables. In the afternoon we heard about the same theme from a different angle with a talk on overcoming neophobia in Iceland from Anna Sigrithur Olafsdottir whose research shows that for a child with neophobia, ten tastes of a new vegetable may not be enough – they may need to try something as many as 30 times before dislike turns to like.
Another of the talks on day one was from Alex Rushmer and Lawrence Butler of the restaurant Vanderlyle where we had eaten an extraordinary dinner on the first night. Just as Sapere teachers can help children uncover new preferences, so chefs can help customers discover new tastes. Alex and Lawrence spoke eloquently about how they decided to create a plant-based restaurant but one where it is not announced that the food is vegetarian. They explained how hard it can be to recreate the umami flavours of meat using vegetables. Umami was a theme which came up again later in the day with a brilliant presentation from Junichiro Somei and Yaeko Kawaguchi on using umami dried fish as part of taste education in Japan.
The second day consisted of parallel sessions with teacher training workshops in one room and scientific papers in another. Dr Gurpinder Lalli spoke of the crucial social aspect of the school meal and the idea of commensality. Dr Elizabeth Kim of Singapore spoke about how strong peer influence can be in determining whether a child takes a large portion of junk foods. Along the corridor, there were teacher training workshops from TastEd (on many colours of tomatoes and on exploring food hidden inside socks) and from teachers in Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and Japan.
It was a wonderful two days and we want to thank all of the speakers and participants. We would also like to thank Jesus College and Julian Huppert for hosting us so magnificently and to Annabel Lee and Mark Tinkler for producing a beautiful programme. We owe huge thanks to Susie Gates for meticulously managing the whole event. And huge thanks are due to our sponsors including the Talking Politics podcast. The other Trustees would like to offer special thanks to Abby Scott, who worked tirelessly on the event for many months and without whom none of it would have happened.
At TastEd, we are still in the early stages compared to almost all of the other countries represented at the Symposium. We found it inspiring to see that in other countries, notably Finland, taste education is recognised as a basic aspect of a child’s education. It was a joyous two days of sharing ideas, conversation and good food. And we look back on the Symposium more determined than ever to bring Taste Education to as many children in the U.K. as we can.
Objectives: – get to know yourself better by discovering your own sensory profile;
– describe sensations and perceptions, developing vocabulary and verbal expression;
– discover and learn to accept differences between individuals, as a form of citizen education;
– learn about food diversity, enable your own choices, and help to fight against obesity and other health problems;
– learn about sustainable development;
– develop your critical thinking and curiosity about the world;
– multi-disciplinary learning.
Content: – Objectives of taste education
– Theory of taste
– Introduction to the sessions
– Participation in full set of sessions, to experience and understand how to provide taste education, and understand the underlying principles
– Discussions about practices, questions, perceptions and sensations
– Practical aspects
– How-to booklet provided, covering session content and delivery, materials needed, extension ideas
– All materials provided
– Advice and support tailored to specific projects is possible, with ongoing support if needed.
This free training is designed for primary and secondary school teachers, specialised teachers, educators and youth workers across “MJC”/”MPT”/charities/cultural organisations, canteen staff…
All the activities in this training day can be adapted for children with special needs.