SOME children may fill their lunchboxes with crisps, chocolate and other junk food that sets them on the road to tooth decay and obesity.

But youngsters at the Blackbird Leys Community Centre served up leftover food from the Oxford Food Bank and learned how to prepare healthy meals.

As part of Low Carbon Oxford Week, four youngsters aged nine to 12 teamed up with Donnington Doorstep Family Centre chef Sandra Ruge to experiment with leftover food from the Oxford Food Bank.

The group, all from Blackbird Leys, consisted of 12-year-old Oxford Academy pupil Destini Anthony and 11-year-old Charmali Jackson, nine-year-old Malaikah Lukonomoi and 11-year-old Regdjay Clarke-Wilson all from Windale Primary School.

The Good Food Oxford “Ready, Steady, Cookup” event saw the team serving up spring pasta and vegetable salad made from tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and spring onions.

Mrs Ruge, who moved from Portugal to Donnington Bridge in 2007, said the goal of the day was to break children away from junk food while minimising waste and using up leftovers.

The 49-year-old, who is married with three children, said: “They really loved it and I think it will have encouraged them to eat healthily.

“We tried to make them realise that a healthy mushroom won’t do you any harm.

“Kids nowadays go for very basic junk food and they don’t know any vegetables at all.

“It is important to get them eating healthily because it is really sad to see children not having access to very good food and it is important to teach them to eat well. The kids were really good and I think they were quite amazed with what they managed to do so this is something I would consider doing again.”

A time limit of 90 minutes had been set for the group to serve up the dishes, and manager of Oxford Good Food Hannah Fenton said they loved food they had previously never tried.

Miss Fenton added: “I am really pleased with the way it went because some of them had never tasted these foods before and they thought it was delicious.”

To satisfy a healthy sweet tooth, Mrs Ruge also taught them how to make roasted plantain.

Chamarli Jackson said: “It’s fun having the opportunity to cook with chefs.”