‘Choc factory trips can spread health message’
‘Chocolate factory trips can spread health message’
A COMPLETE ban on chocolate and sweet foods can be more damaging to children than occasional indulgence, the chairman of the national body set up to tackle obesity has said.
And Dr Colin Waine, from the National Obesity Forum, said visits to a chocolate factory, being organised by some schools in Wales, could also be a good way to get across the healthy eating message if done in the right way.
“The crucial thing is the quality of the educational message being put across and the manner in which it is done,” Dr Waine said.
“You don’t get anywhere with absolute prohibition. Prohibition just makes it become very attractive for children.”
Teachers, knowing the power of using something that children are interested in to help them learn, are signing up to educational visits to The Chocolate Factory in Swansea.
Pupils learn everything from botany to business studies through the medium of chocolate, sales and marketing manager Martin Holt said.
The factory runs at least two educational visits each week for colleges, primary and secondary schools.
Visitors in recent weeks have been surprised to see Easter eggs rolling off production lines as the factory gears up for the next big chocolate munching season.
“We cover geography, through where chocolate comes from, and history, in how it was discovered,” Mr Holt said.
“The science of how it was developed is looked at and the chemistry involved in melting and changing materials.
“For business studies we look at how the product is marketed and we also explain how the cocoa trees grow.
“Teachers can even use the topic for literacy by reading Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.”
Carol Evans, head of business studies at Bishop McGrath Catholic school in Bridgend, has taken GCSE and A-level students to the factory.
She admitted that they did enjoy the free samples but said there was a genuine educational benefit too.
“They learned about the seasonality of the product and production,” she said.
“Chocolate is in greater demand at different times of the year and they learned how businesses coped with that. A lot of the pupils said they were very focused on the free samples.
“These stuck in their minds and helped them remember what they had learned and how free samples can be used in marketing. What is interesting is that chocolate is actually manufactured in only a very few places.
“It isn’t made from scratch at the factory. They buy it in and mix and mould it.
“Some aspects of business studies courses can be a bit dry so chocolate is a good way to interest pupils.”
The Chocolate Factory is run by Michton, a company owned by brother and sister Michelle and Tony Wadley.
The pair, originally from South Africa, relocated from London when their business expanded some years ago.
The company makes and supplies chocolate for shops including Harrods, John Lewis, BHS and Waitrose.
Michelle started the school visits after a friend asked if her son could see the factory as a birthday treat.
Mr Holt said, “We thought she was mad but it was a huge success.
“Very early on we realised the potential interest for schools and have covered the following topics, geography, history, the source of chocolate, manufacturing, melting, science, design & technology and a vast array of subjects under business studies.
“Schools also visit us for end of term jollies.
“We tailor each visit according to the school’s requirement.”
He added, “There is plenty of sampling too.”