A COLOURFUL array of homemade snacks were carefully packed into pupils’ lunchboxes as they learned about healthy eating.

Rose Hill Primary School in Oxford ran a healthy living week to teach pupils about how to eat a balanced diet, culminating in a packed lunch contest to show their knowledge.

Children were challenged to create a balanced meal, make it tasty and attractive, ensure it is easy to make, and keep the cost below £2.30 (the cost of a school meal).

Emma Hood, healthy schools coordinator at the school, said: “Once again the children threw themselves into everything, especially the competition.

“They got really into inventing their own lunches, and came up with lots of great work on menus and budgets.

“Food is such a personal thing, and we wanted the children to learn about nutrition and to try new things, but also to be free to make their own choices.”

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Classes collaboratively designed and made a packed lunch, making the effort to write booklets about the nutritional value of what was inside and how much it cost to make.

A judging panel tried each of the lunches and assessed the contents, made up of the school’s headteacher Sue Vermes, head chef Karyn Quinn, and one of our very own Oxford Mail reporters and food reviewers.

The overall winners were Elder class, whose lunch included sandwich swirls on brown bread with low-fat cream cheese and tomato, a boiled egg, and physalis fruit.

They also included a banana and carrot and cucumber sticks with low-fat houmous.

Ishaq Atitebe, who was in the winning class, said: “I learnt to analyse sugar in foods and I found out how much you’re supposed to have in a day.

“It was also interesting learning to budget because we had to come up with the cheapest and most balanced packed lunch, which was really fun.”

Classmate Zubayed Abedin added: “Now I know about the Eatwell guide I can choose nutritious food in the right proportions and I can tell more easily if it’s healthy or not.”

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Their prize was a pizza and smoothie-making session with Waste 2 Taste, a catering business which uses surplus food to prevent it from going to waste, and runs cooking workshops.

Other lunch entries included wholemeal wraps, low-sugar yoghurts, crudités, homemade pizza bagels, healthy crisps, plain popcorn, and a variety of fruit.

During the week pupils also had talks from visiting dentist Siddhika Sathyamoorthy, representatives from Community Dental Services, and also took part in fun fitness sessions such as zumba.

They learnt that dried fruit is a bad snack for the teeth, due to its sticky texture and high sugar content, while cheese is good as it has many benefits for teeth.

Maths lessons for the week focused on budgeting, while children also got to visit Ms Hood's ‘lunch laboratory’ to experiment with a range of food.

Children gathered in the hall to hear the results of the packed lunch contest, and every class won highly-commended certificates ranging from most tooth-friendly to most attractive lunch.