A CHALLENGE to encourage children to eat more vegetables has announced a school in County Durham as the winner.

Stephenson Way Academy and Nursery School, in Newton Aycliffe, and Elior catering company, were announced as the winners of ITV and Veg Power’s Eat Them to Defeat Them catering challenge.

Another County Durham school, Middlestone Moor Primary Spennymoor, was named national runner-up.

Efforts at Stephenson Way were recognised by judges of the competition after staff covered the canteen in a display of evil vegetable cartoons, and the pupils had to act as the heroes, eating the vegetables to defeat them.

The challenge ran nationally and aimed to highlight the work that catering teams were doing across the country to help support this year’s 2020 campaign, in which Channel 4, Sky and ITV joined forces, together donating over £3m of media space.

They will release multiple adverts challenging children to eat healthier, with each week featuring a different vegetable that will inspire the activities at schools.

Elior catering is working to increase vegetable consumption across the UK as part of the Peas Please initiative, which makes it easier for everyone in the country to access more vegetables.

Jade Gower, promotions manager from Elior, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the top and runner up prizes in the Caterers Challenge for Stephenson Way Infants and Middlestone Moor respectively.

“Not only that, but to have six of our schools make the shortlist is such a great testament to the hard work of all of our catering teams.

“We have fully embraced Eat Them to Defeat Them across our education sites as we recognise the lasting positive impact it makes to the pupils and what a difference it truly has made!

“We are proud to have had the team’s creative efforts in bringing Eat Them To Defeat Them to life recognised.”

This year, the campaign has been in 1,500 primary schools across the country with a school programme that was designed by educators, public health professionals, school caterers and the Veg Power Creative team in line with the curriculum and government healthy-eating guidelines.

Dan Parker, CMO, Veg Power, said: “The Catering team at Stephenson Way did an amazing job.

“This is a shining example of caterers working in partnership with schools and pupils to bring the fun of Eat Them to Defeat Them alive and to use it to encourage kids to eat more veg.

“Our judges were particularly impressed by sheer wow factor of your displays, the way the kids had caught the fun-evil spirit of the campaign and how you bought it all together with varied and tasty vegetable treats.

“Thank you for the passion, dedication and sheer joy you bring to your pupils.”

Clare Phillips, director of social purpose at ITV, said: “It’s so inspiring to see how caterers and schools have taken up the Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign and made it their own.

“It’s the combination of what broadcasters like ITV can do, together with supermarkets, schools, parents and caterers across the country, and our partners Veg Power, that will change children’s attitudes to vegetables. And we know it works.”

During schools’ closure due to Covid-19, art projects can be found on the Eat them To Defeat Them website.