An update on the ‘Mole’s Veggie Adventure’ app

‘Mole’s Veggie Adventures’ – translated text “Welcome, let’s learn about my favourite vegetables!”

The ‘Mole’s Veggie Adventure’ game, developed as part of the preschool work of the EIT Food School Network, is up and running in Finland, Poland and the UK and is proving a great success!

The free app was designed to guide and inspire preschool children to become familiar with vegetables and self-regulate their food intake. It can be used as a tool for early childhood nutritional education.

Trials of the app in care centres in Finland and Poland have been very well received by children and preschool teachers.

The game follows Mole’s adventures into vegetables, and gives children the opportunity to learn about the tastes, smells, shapes and colours of a variety of fruit and vegetables. There are also group games that teach the children about the seasonal produce.

The app is available to download now for free at app stores! Just search for ‘Mole’s Veggie Adventures’.

Publication of results in the Nutrition Bulletin

At the end of 2018, researchers at Queen’s University Belfast conducted interviews and discussions with stakeholders in secondary school food across Northern Ireland. Just over a year later, results from these discussions have been published in the Nutrition Bulletin, which is the peer-reviewed journal of the British Nutrition Foundation.

You can access this article at here, on the Wiley Online Library.

Stakeholder discussions gave insight into the priority areas for secondary school food provision in Northern Ireland and directed further research into these areas. Discussions also explored food wastage in secondary schools since the introduction of nutritional standards for school food in 2013.


The European research and training network for obesity management

On the 28th and 29th November 2019, partners from the University of Warsaw presented at the ‘European research and training network for obesity management’ in Prague to promote their research for the EIT Food School Network. This workshop was organised by the Faculty of Medicine at Charles University and took place in a very grand location.

Partners from the University of Warsaw presented on the importance of healthy eating habits in children and the educational tool developed by the team for pre-school and primary school children as part of their research for the School Network.

Over 100 professionals from various medical-based specialties from 4EU+ universities attended, including Sorbonne University, University of Copenhagen, University of Warsaw and Heidelberg University. The workshop aimed to develop collaboration between 4EU+ universities in the field of interdisciplinary obesity reduction strategies.

The 4EU+ European Alliance brings together six research-intensive public universities from four European regions to create and develop quality teaching, research, education and administration. The EIT Food School Network is lucky to have the University of Warsaw as an active partner.

You can learn more about the 4EU+ by clicking here to link to their website.

Cooking with the family

Last week, EIT Food School Network partners Azti Tecnalia hosted two schools participating in research for the project – La Merced de Derio and Escolapios de Bilbao – in their experimental kitchen in Derio. Researchers at Azti used this an as opportunity to receive some feedback on the activities delivered by the project and discuss the needs and recommendations of the parents and schools involved. Gathering feedback is an important aspect of research, as it strengthens the activities and helps them develop to be more applicable to those involved.

Of course it was also great fun for the children, as they got to cook a healthy dinner with their family and taste their great work!

Azti’s poster presentation at Pangborn 2019

Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Researchers from one of our Spanish partners, Azti Tecnalia, attended the Pangborn Symposium to present a poster on the work being carried out by the EIT Food School Network. The Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium is a biannual conference on sensory and consumer science, and this year took place in historic Edinburgh, Scotland.

The 13th Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium brought together leading pioneers and emerging experts in sensory and consumer science, from industry and academia, to give their views and perspectives on how our science will evolve, and how ground-breaking ongoing research and scientific learnings will impact on this journey.

The main topics included:

  • Sensory and consumer science through the lifespan (children, young, elderly)
  • Health
  • Lifestyle and well-being
  • Cross cultural issues
  • Fundamentals of perception
  • Emerging sensory and consumer science methodologies
  • Sensometrics
  • Digital opportunities and big data
  • Next generation retail
  • Global resource challenges

The Pangborn Sensory Science Symposium is a great event at which to discuss Azti’s work as part of the School Network, which focuses on perceptions of healthy eating, food preferences and neophobic behaviours in primary school aged children. The app Comocomoyo was developed as a game to engage young children and find out more about their dietary habits, food consumption and perception of healthy food.

Azti’s poster at Pangborn Symposium

Azti’s research in this area is ongoing and the app is being developed as a tool that can be widely applied. Pangborn Symposium was an excellent opportunity to disseminate the project activity, establish synergies and network with other research centres carrying out similar activities. Perceptions of and preferences for different foods is such an important research topic in young children, as dietary habits formed at a young age can be maintained through to adulthood. You can find out more about Azti Tecnalia’s role in this research here.

A chance to get involved – ‘See and Eat’ launch

Researchers at one of our partner universities, University of Reading, have just launched a new project to encourage children to eat their veg! The ‘See and Eat’ study is recruiting parents and toddlers to find out whether e-books can help parents to successfully introduce vegetables into their child’s diet. You can find out more at FoodUnfolded, which contains a link for participation in the study.

Introducing a variety of vegetables to children at a young age can impact on food preferences through familiarity, and studies show that boosting a food’s familiarity through picture books can increase a child’s willingness to taste that food. ‘See and Eat’ e-books on vegetables are available to download at the above link on FoodUnfolded. This is a great way to get involved in research and learn more about food preferences in young children.

EIT Food School Network annual meeting

This year the University of Warsaw hosted the partners from the EIT Food School Network in their annual meeting. It was a beautiful setting in which to discuss the progress after a busy start to the year.

Partners from Warsaw gifted the visitors some traditional Polish tea and a reusable cup for all of the hot drinks.

Each partner presented on their progress since the start of the year before coming together to discuss future plans. Partners from Warsaw, Helsinki, Reading and Azti Tecnalia have been working hard on the Mole’s Veggie Adventure app for use in schools, making sure it is fun and informative in many languages.

Please do continue to follow our updates for the rest of the year as the School Network develops. You can follow EIT Food and Tess Capper on Twitter for updates.

University of Helsinki update

We have a new name for the EIT Food School Network app designed by the University of Helsinki – Mole’s Veggie Adventure. This app is to help preschool children learn about food and healthy eating. Researchers at the University of Helsinki has also been busy writing a teacher’s guide to help the early educators use the application as part of their normal pedagogical routines in preschools.

Pilot studies using the app are scheduled for September 2019 in Finland, Poland and the UK.

Watch this space for rollout of the app to follow Mole’s veggie adventures!


University of Warsaw – cooking show, “healthy eating is fun”!

Researchers at the University of Warsaw have been very busy indeed hosting six cooking shows with primary school pupils in Poland. 59 pupils from Julius Verne Primary attended and prepared snacks, second breakfasts and healthy desserts. Second breakfasts isn’t a term that we use in the UK but in Poland a second breakfast is a mid-morning snack, often a sandwich, that children may take to school in their lunchboxes.

Recipes at the cooking shows were based on unprocessed, vegetarian foods. Pupils had the opportunity to try some foods that previous research shows to be widely disliked – aubergine (eggplant), onion and mushroom.

After food tasting and exchanging experiences on the products, the children sat together and shared some homemade dishes and talked about the meal. An important aspect raised was the identification of satiety before and after the meal i.e. feelings of fullness, satisfaction or hunger. The aim of this part of the workshop was to learn how to eat according to body signals.

The pupils chose what foods they wanted to try and quickly noticed how the group had different tastes and preferences and even that some foods were very different to how they expected them to taste.

The cooking shows were a resounding success, with children showing their willingness to prepare the dishes again. “Healthy eating is fun” was heard from many of the pupils! The recipes used in the cooking shows have been sent to the school, so that teachers, parents and children can continue their culinary education.

University of Warsaw – stakeholder network building

On the 12th June, the team at the University of Warsaw attended a large conference in Poland, “Be careful, child”, to present their ongoing work for the EIT Food School Network. Over 100 professionals attended the conference from a variety of child-related backgrounds including nurseries, kindergartens, schools, doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists and representatives from central, regional and local authorities responsible for social policy. The perfect environment in which to promote the work of the EIT Food School Network. The presentation at this conference was very successful, with 19 new participants showing interest in communication and activities planned for the future in kindergarten and schools. Below you can see some content of the “Mole minds veggies” game developed by the University of Helsinki, that has been successful in engaging with children at preschool.