As explained above, I believe nutrition/cooking and lifestyle should be a compulsory subject in the national curriculum of all schools in order to make a significant and quantifiable impact of reducing NHS demand in the longer term. The lifestyle element should include exercise and mindfulness to prevent mental health issues. Nutrition and cookery are self explanatory but should include innovative ways to make quick, tasty and healthy meals as economically as possible.
How can schools across the country find suitable staff to provide teaching in nutrition/cooking and lifestyle ? The answer is easy… there is a mature, educated and capable workforce well equipped for this role. There are millions of ‘stay at home mums’ looking to get back into the job market; despite many having degrees and previous professional careers, it is exceptionally difficult for this sector of the population to find employment after a long career break. This idea could also help increase the numbers in teaching; teaching nutrition/lifestyle may encourage further teacher training in other subjects. The role could also be open to qualified nutritionalists. However, a clear curriculum plan with pre-prepared material would not require prior nutrition specialism.
Should there be another pandemic, the unutilised, educated workforce described above could be used to help fill all the new job roles needed. ‘Stay at home mums’ looking to get back into the workforce would see this as a great opportunity. Perhaps there should be a campaign to recruit this very capable sector of the population. Life begins around 50 for many women. There is a preconception I believe generally by employers that women of a certain age are ‘mumsy.’ This is a great pity and misconception. There are many advantages recruiting from this sector. I hope these 21st century highly capable ‘auxiliaries’ can be used for either teaching nutrition/lifestyle to help unburden the NHS in the future or to help support the pandemic.