Quality Food and Cooking Education (FCE) in schools can contribute to promoting children's wellbeing and is advocated as a curricular entitlement.
This study sought to explore the food and nutrition (FN) and food preparation and cooking (FPC) education being implemented in Maltese Primary schools.
Study Design, Setting, Participants
In November 2021, teachers were invited to participate in an online survey via social media posts on multiple education-related Facebook groups/pages. Sole inclusion criterion was being a practicing Primary schoolteacher in Malta.
Frequency distributions were used to identify teachers’ interest in FN and FPC; self-perception of FN knowledge, FPC skills and self-efficacy to teach FN and FPC; relevant training received; coverage of FN topics – meals, foods, food groups, processes, sustainability; and FPC practices, activities and barriers.
Fifty one teachers teaching different year-groups responded. These were mainly female, age 23-45 years, with 11+ years of experience. The majority were interested or very interested in FN (78%) and FPC (74%), were self-taught in FN (77%) and FPC (88%), and felt they had very good or excellent FN knowledge (61%) and FPC skills (65%). About half felt very good to excellent self-efficacy to teach FN (51%) and FPC (49%). Most commonly taught topics, often integrated with literacy and science lessons, were snacks, breakfast, packed lunch, lunches; vegetables, fruit, water, fresh fruit juices, smoothies; food hygiene, food safety, food waste, composting; seasonal festive dishes, and traditional local dishes/food. Eighty-nine percent of the teachers had done FPC with students. Most prepared items were pizza, healthy sandwiches, wraps, smoothies and fruit kebabs. Reported barriers to FPC were inadequate resources, classroom management concerns and limited personal knowledge or skills.
FCE implementation in Maltese Primary classrooms is fairly broad, but is limited in food groups coverage and recipe variety. Lack of training is one possible reason. A study limitation is non-assessment of the accuracy of the teaching. Developing a national FCE curriculum, supported by teacher training and resources is recommended.