Considering children’s food preferences and nutrient requirements in food aid

  • Children have a genetic predisposition to sweet taste and an aversion to sour taste. With regards to FV, children prefer ‘sweet’ vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and peas.
  • Frequent exposure and tasting increases acceptance of FV by children.
  • Fresh and local FV with minimal use of pesticides and chemicals should be preferred. If not available, frozen and preserved FV can be used to ensure a varied supply throughout the year.
  • Children like food with soft texture- they prefer mince, burgers, fish without bones and chicken. Meat products such as sausage, salamis and tinned meats, usually high in saturated fat and salt, should be replaced with legumes, beans, lentils, fish, eggs, poultry or lean meat.
  • Foods with added sugars should be avoided. Instead, low-sugar dairy products should be preferred. Fruit juices and sugary drinks should be replaced by water and milk.
  • Foods containing high amounts of salt should be avoided. Low-salt breakfast cereals, dairy and baking products should be preferred for children. Salt should not be added during cooking and meal preparation. Children should not be given salt at the table.
  • Food should be prepared in a safe and hygienic way; steaming, baking and boiling are healthy cooking practices.

How can food aid programmes reduce food insecurity in children?

Guidance by the World Health Organisation for the development of nutrition programmes in the European region