Food and its influence on character could be something rather unusual to write about but when you start to think about it you begin to realise how food shapes so many aspects of our daily lives and indeed that of our next generations.
After a career working with community groups and schools across the UK I truly believe that food can influence our behaviour and character. Hunger in particular is a feeling that we all have experienced at some time in our lives and can empathise with. It is a feeling that drives our behaviour towards others and how we behave ourselves. Volunteering and fundraising for hunger global projects that support school food such as Marys Meals or the World Food Programme is something that thus displaying the character trait of humanity.
For the last two years I have been in a position of voluntary co-ordinator for a global day on School Food. It's been an interesting journey so far and one that started in Scotland. I am pleased to say that much of what I have learned about schools, education and people has come from a love of food and nurturing role is has to play in education of children.
Through this worldwide project I have learnt about how food plays a valuable role in our cultures and religious beliefs, both areas that can influence and shape character. Families' values of eating together at celebration times such as Christmas, Passover and Eid can stay with us for a lifetime.
Food is a topic that both adults and children can talk about in a variety of contexts and by using a mix of emotions. Emotions such as joy, sadness, pride, shame, wonder, amusement, caution, patience and more. Can you remember a time when you might have felt a food connected emotion? Pride for instance at producing a marvellous meal or wonderful harvest. Shame in over indulgence of something that we know may not be good for us which might demonstrate a lack of temperance.
Curiosity about food is also trait I have become acutely aware of working in schools and with children and young people. Having courage to be different from peers and try something new that is a non-traditional food has often brought out character.
The saying 'you are what you eat' is one that is used with regularity in terms of decision making and health behaviour. Scotland was one of the first countries to lay down legislation in 2007 with is Schools Health Promotion and Nutrition Act on school food and wellbeing that clearly advocated healthy choices, access to good food and linked education to food and wellbeing through the curriculum. This policy is something I have been privileged as a parent and professional to witness over the last decade. I will enjoy watching the next generation of Scottish young people as they emerge from ten years of government's investment in Hungry for Success and the now revised Better Eating Better Learning policy. With the advances in technology and social media I do believe that this generation are now true global citizens and food will continue to play its part in shaping their future characters.