Launch – Engaging Transition Year Students with Ireland’s Artisan Food Industry

The Future is Food Launch – Engaging Transition Year Students with Ireland’s Artisan Food Industry.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D., joined Bord Bia and The TASTE Council of Ireland today to launch “The Future is Food” an initiative to engage Transition Year students with Ireland’s artisan food industry. The Future is Food received recognition by the National Council of Curriculum Assessment (NCCA) following a pilot in eight schools in the 2013/2014 school year.

More than 4,000 students from 200 schools across Ireland will take part in ‘The Future is Food’, which will see them broaden their knowledge and understanding of the local, artisanal and speciality food sectors through practical insight and real-life experience, and so create and inspire the next generation of Irish food entrepreneurs and advocates.

Participating schools will each partner with a local artisan producer, chef or food champion who will help budding student entrepreneurs and innovators to develop their own unique food product or to work with them on an existing product.

The programme includes twenty lesson plans focussing on topics such as entrepreneurship, food origin and Bord Bia’s Origin Green sustainability programme as well as research, new product development and marketing. Speaking to a group of students at Christ King Girls’ Secondary School, Cork, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney T.D., said that Ireland has a thriving speciality food sector, worth approximately €400 million to the Irish economy.

“There are now more than 750 artisan and speciality food producers across the country who are contributing to the unprecedented local, national and international success of Ireland’s food sector,” he said.

“I would like to congratulate Bord Bia and The TASTE Council for developing The Future is Food as a means of providing Transition Year students with an opportunity to gain real-life insight into the array of opportunities that the Irish food sector presents for young people with an entrepreneurial flair.

“Its value lies in the experiential learning process which engages not just students, but also the many local producers and food professionals who have freely volunteered their time as their contribution towards inspiring the food entrepreneurs of the future.”

Teresa Brophy, Consumer and Trade Marketing Manager at Bord Bia is encouraged by the number of schools that have signed-up to The Future is Food. “This is a hugely important initiative for Bord Bia and The TASTE Council and the number of schools taking part this year has exceeded all our expectations,” she said.

“The programme aims to give young people an understanding of today’s food industry and also to inspire them to play a part in the Irish food industry of tomorrow whether that be as a farmer, grower, producer or chef. In so many ways, our ability to maintain our reputation for being a strong food-producing nation, with an international image, is based on qualities such as local sourcing, traditional food production methods, skilled craftspeople and authentic recipes. The future of the food industry lies in hands of our students and it is important we engage them at an early stage.

“The Future is Food will take students on a creative journey from farm to fork, giving them a unique insight into what it is to be an artisan producer or food professional running a real-life commercial enterprise with all the opportunities and challenges that presents.”

A key element of The Future is Food is the involvement of a network of mentors comprising artisan producers, chefs and other food producers recruited by The TASTE Council to partner with schools, all of whom will pass on the benefit of their own experience and expertise.

TASTE Council Chairman, Kevin Sheridan said that the willingness of mentors to work with schools on this initiative would bring a real ‘hands-on’ dimension to this exciting programme.

“The TASTE Council of Ireland’s raison d’être is to provide national and international expertise to enable the Irish speciality food sector to maximise its potential contribution to Ireland’s economy, environment, culture and society and inspiring young people to follow in our footsteps is an important part of that,” he said.

“The food sector of the future relies on creative individuals who have what it takes to run viable businesses. The Future is Food will enable students to see how the food industry operates in and beyond the farm gate and kitchen by allowing them to establish their own mini-companies and experience for themselves what it is to be a food entrepreneur.

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