Food behaviour is linked with social skills and the ability to build relationships with others. Food and the practices around food have massive potential for creating an environment where children can begin to feel part of a family unit, to develop relationships and other social skills.
Food is used symbolically by children, foster carers and residential staff. Food for Thought is a great resource available online which looks at how food comes to stand for thoughts, beliefs and feelings and how these can be better understood and harnessed in the care of children.
Food for Thought is an ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) funded project led by the research team from the University of Stirling. On the Food for Thought website, you will find a wealth of resources to help.
These resources promote awareness and understanding of the symbolic uses of food. The aim is to equip foster carers/staff with knowledge, skills and resources to observe and understand the food and food practices being undertaken by the child they are caring for.
Some of the resources available include:
- Interactive Introduction to Food for Thought is a short online guide introducing the user to some of the key concepts relating to Food for Thought. It aims to raise awareness of the relationship between food as a symbol and care. Users of this resource are asked to reflect on their own experiences and relate these to some of the key findings of the Food for Thought research. It is designed for: Foster carers, Residential child care workers, Supervisors and managers.
- JOTIT Notebook is intended as a space for carers, staff or young people to write down food-related reflections or events as they occur. It is intended to be used as an informal, easy way of recording. Carers and staff may not have many opportunities for lengthy periods of structured reflection. The JOTIT provides a way to collect reminders of issues and events as they happen for those times when reflection is more possible. This resource can be completed by one person or a team/family. They may choose to draw on their JOTIT notes to complete the Reflective Tool, to prepare for supervision with managers or support workers or to act as a reminder prior to Peer Support discussion.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT and other resources are available on the Food for Thought website