Welcome to the last Grapevine for 2023! Hasn’t this year flown? It’s been a busy term four once again for both our Healthy Eats team and schools, and I’m delighted to announce we’ve had another school achieve Healthy Eats accreditation.
Congratulations to Fernbrooke State School and Healthy Eats Coordinator Brooke, as well as all the students and staff who worked so hard to achieve this result! This is a fantastic achievement that recognises all the hard work that has gone into creating a gold standard healthy food environment at Fernbrooke. Along the journey Fernbrooke has had a highly engaged student cohort, creating a Healthy Eats rap complete with stop motion animation, a whole school brain break competition and thriving school garden. Well done Fernbrooke State School.
This term also saw Healthy Eats Community Development Officer Megan visit five Healthy Eats schools in Townsville. Megan was amazed by the actions many of these schools were taking to promote healthy eating within their community.
At the beginning of the term, we were sad to lose a key staff member in the Healthy Eats team, Jaclyn. Jaclyn had been instrumental in the development of the program over the past two years and had worked particularly closely with our southeast Qld schools. Jaclyn has taken up a new opportunity with the Queensland Government and we wish her all the very best in the future.
Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, we will be unable to provide face-to-face support for the Healthy Eats program in 2024. However, I’m excited to share that Healthy Eats will still be available to schools through a teacher-led approach, and we’ll continue to provide schools with online access to all of our fabulous Healthy Eats teacher and student resources. We’ll be in touch with more details soon.
We have greatly enjoyed working with all our Healthy Eats schools over the last year and look forward to continuing our relationship in the future. I would like to wish you all a safe, healthy and happy festive season and hope that you are able to take some time to rest, relax and rejuvenate over the holiday period. The team at Life Ed Qld looks forward to working with you again in 2024.
CEO, Life Ed Qld
In this edition:
Fernbrooke State School is the first school in the Ipswich region to achieve full Healthy Eats Accreditation.
Brooke Oberle, Head of Department for Years 4 to 6 and Healthy Eats Coordinator at the school was delighted when she received the news that Fernbrooke had been successful in achieving Healthy Eats accreditation.
“I am so proud of the staff and students who worked to achieve accreditation and who helped make a difference to the healthy eating attitudes of our students. The hard work has paid off. The students have benefited, and I am glad we persevered to achieve accreditation. I am looking forward to putting the banner out the front and announcing it in the newsletter,” said Brooke.
Fernbrooke State School began their Healthy Eats journey in 2021, deciding to take up the program because of their previous positive experiences with Life Ed Qld and how well the program aligned with an area of focus for the school – nutrition.
The school was also keen to establish a garden and increase the take-up of Brain Breaks across the school; and the Healthy Eats program really helped to drive those initiatives.
“I thought the garden was going to be difficult, however the support that we received from Healthy Eats partner – Bunnings, was great. We also won a Woolworths Landcare grant which provided us with funds to expand our garden. The engagement from the children meant that the garden project was definitely a highlight. The joy they have when the garden produces different vegetables has been excellent. They will run up and tell whoever will listen that there are capsicums, beans, peas, corn, eggplant, red cherry tomatoes etc. ready for harvest. Their enthusiasm is contagious,” said Brooke.
It has been the students of Fernbrooke State School who have truly benefited and been the real driving force behind the success of the Healthy Eats program.
“While I am proud of everything that we have achieved with the Healthy Eats program, one of the most special highlights has been the difference having the garden and leadership opportunities has made to one particular student.
“We have a student who was select-mute and through the Healthy Eats program, this student became involved in the garden and then started to communicate with teachers and peers. Initially it was about the garden and limited staff but now the student has developed the confidence to speak to other staff and will even volunteer to go and give messages. We made this student a ‘Healthy Eats Leader’ along with another student in the class and it has been a real confidence booster, and we now have a student who will communicate – amazing!” said Brooke.
One of the most engaged student groups across the Healthy Eats program – the Fernbrooke Healthy Eats leaders, developed a variety of initiatives to promote the healthy eating message across their school community. This activity included recording a Healthy Eats rap (complete with stop-motion music video) and creating a whole school Brain Break competition which the students developed, ran and promoted themselves – even gaining sponsorship from the local Woolworths for the prize – a healthy food platter for the wining student and their class.
“Our students loved being involved in the Healthy Eats program. The introduction of Healthy Eats class leaders for each Year 4, 5 and 6 classroom was a game changer for students to drive the program,” said Brooke.
When asked if Fernbrooke State School would recommend the Healthy Eats program to other schools, Brooke was emphatic with her answer.
“Absolutely – every school should engage in the Healthy Eats journey – the outcomes for students, and staff will be fantastic. If students have a healthy diet, their attention and therefore achievement may also improve.
“We also loved working with the Life Ed Qld Healthy Eats team. I really felt supported throughout our journey and along every step of the way. They were always there to help, give ideas and support the students and myself through the accreditation process. The kids actually felt like Jaclyn was part of our school staff – we saw her often and they loved the activities she did with them – she even joined in our passport picnic!” Brooke said.
Do you want to serve nuggets in your tuckshop, but you’re concerned about serving a red food? Or do you already serve nuggets and you’d like to check that the way you’re serving them achieves an amber rating?
The QAST website has a new resource which can help!
Nuggets and all other coated chicken products (tenders, goujons and burger patties) can achieve an amber rating if they are served with a good portion of veg or salad.
The new How to Serve Chicken Nuggets in Your Tuckshops Quick Guide is a fantastic resource and steps you through portion sizes, recipe ideas and suggested ways to present these popular items, with a boost of added nutrition.
The Healthier Tuckshops page on the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops website provides lots of other free resources for you to access as well, such as the 2023 Recipe of the Year finalist’s cookbook.
The Tuckshop of the Year competition showcases the wonderful work being done in tuckshops across Queensland, and the finalist’s cookbook provides recipes for six of the excellent entries that you can try out in your own tuckshop.
If you are looking for inspiration or new menu ideas, jump on our website and take a look at the Healthier Tuckshops page for these resources and more.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at QAST if we can help with anything tuckshop-related for your school.
Article provided by QAST
Healthy Eats Community Development Officer, Megan was in Townsville recently touching base with our Healthy Eats schools, Aitkenvale State School, Vincent State School, Townsville West State School, Currajong State School and St. Benedict’s Catholic College and was blown away by the initiatives and activities the schools had implemented throughout the term.
Vincent State School had been very busy creating their bird winged butterfly school garden.
Already flourishing, the garden includes a variety of native plants amongst a number of other fruits, veggies and herbs including capsicum, mint, lettuce, eggplant, tomato, dill and lemons.
Students have been very excited about the garden, helping out with its development, care and maintenance.
Many of the crops in the garden will be utilised in school cooking activities including the very popular cooking with the principal and others were thoughtfully selected to encourage native animals and insects into the area.
Vincent State School was one of four Healthy Eats schools to receive a Junior Landcare grant to help establish their school garden.
Townsville West State School can also boast a thriving fruit and vegetable garden. Set amongst ancient curtain fig trees, Teacher Aide Scott leads an enthusiastic band of garden helpers to beautifully maintain and care for a flourishing crop. The tropical environment is perfect for plants such as bananas, passionfruit and papaya! You can read more about it in our Townsville West State School story in this Grapevine newsletter.
The Currajong State School tuckshop has been leading the healthy eating charge at the school, with a commitment to providing students with a nutritious and delicious QAST five-star apple rated tuckshop menu. One of the most popular dishes – the Super Easy Burrito was a finalist in the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops Recipe of the Year competition!
The Aitkenvale State School Healthy Eats student leaders have been very busy, proactively promoting healthy food choices across the school by wearing a selection of fruit costumes and talking to students about healthy eating during lunch time. Alongside the healthy eating initiative, the leaders have also been collecting popper juice containers to fundraise for an array of projects including the school fruit and vegetable garden. The healthy eating focus has had a positive effect at Aitkenvale State School, with staff noticing a difference in student behavior between morning and afternoon sessions. As a result, the school has incorporated a second brain break in the afternoon.
It’s not just the plants flourishing in the Townsville West State School garden, the students are growing and flourishing too, ably led by passionate Teacher Aide, Scott, who runs the school garden club.
With a background in landscaping, Scott was a natural choice to lead the garden club and knew first-hand the benefits students involved int its care would gain.
“I saw the great opportunity the garden club would be for many of the kids, so I was very happy to be involved. Lots of kids miss out on having a garden at home and don’t learn the important skills gardening teaches you. Some of the kids didn’t even know how to use a shovel, but they do now! It is also just a great way for kids to connect with the natural environment,” said Scott.
The garden club rarely has a shortage of volunteers, with plenty of the kids from the small, 120 student school wanting to be involved.
“We rarely have a shortage of volunteers, but the crew does change. All the bigger boys love to get involved until footy season rolls round and then they are off; but that is fine because it opens up an opportunity for other kids to be involved too. I am already working with the Year 3 students on scoping projects for next year,” said Scott.
Students undertake an array of tasks in the garden, from weeding and mulching to digging up seedlings and re-potting them, ready to take home.
“I had one student who asked if she could take a plant home for her brother, so we made that into a project – we spent the afternoon digging out the daisy seedlings and potting them so that they could be taken home,” said Scott.
The garden club is already preparing for next year’s crop by planting a nitrogen fixing cover crop that will enrich the soil ready for planting in the new year.
Next year’s main project will be the creation of a proper bean row, that will provide a large space for the beans to run and take hold, along with a beautiful sunflower garden.
“Ideally, I’d love the bean run to produce enough of a crop so that students will be able to take a heap home, similar to what we did this year with the sweet potatoes,” said Scott.
By far Scott’s favourite thing about the garden and garden club, seems to be the same thing the students love most too.
“It’s the smiles on the kids’ faces and the joy they have when doing things in the garden – especially the harvesting! All the kids love to harvest – even if they don’t eat the foods that are growing, they still love to watch the tomatoes or sweet potatoes growing and then harvesting them once they are ready,” said Scott.
Year 4 student, Ben agrees.
“The best thing about the garden is making people smile all the time, the garden makes people happy!”
Townsville West State School’s top garden tips
The Fernbrooke State School Healthy Eats leaders have come up with a brilliant idea to promote the 2 and 5 to help you thrive concept across the whole school – the Healthy Eats Brain Break Snack Competition. Their idea was to create a competition that encouraged all students to bring a healthy Brain Break snack to school each day. All the Healthy Eats leaders met regularly to develop the competition concept.
The leaders settled on a competition where all students across the school were encouraged to bring a healthy brain break snack each day. Students would receive a ticket/entry form and could colour-in a section of their ticket each day they had a healthy snack. At the end of the week students could submit their entry to the Healthy Eats leaders via a box in the library. They were then in with a chance to win the ultimate prize – a healthy picnic for their class to share!
Healthy Eats leader Lorelei was excited by the idea of getting to put together platters for the winning students and their classes.
“We have been looking at the garden to check what we can harvest and add to the fruit platter for the winning student and class. We will be able to use cherry tomatoes, eggplant, corn, capsicum and maybe we can even do something with our peas. We have lots growing! It’s exciting to go and see how big our veggies are getting,” Lorelei said.
Once they had settled on the final idea, the students designed the tickets. The winning design was created digitally and made into small booklets that were distributed to every student in the school. The leaders worked together to come up with the competition conditions and helped to design the poster for the competition. They then made a promotional roster and allocated classes to each Healthy Eats leader.
Each leader visited a class in the school and explained the competition. They then provided each student with their Healthy Eats Brain Break Snack Competition booklet. Francesca, one of the Healthy Eats leaders even spoke at the online assembly to promote the competition. The leaders were blown away by the response and realised they had a problem when the competition box was overflowing with entries after the first week!
Once the competition had closed, the Healthy Eats leaders drew the winning tickets and excitedly created the platters, delivering them to the winning classrooms.
A big thanks to Woolworths Brookwater who assisted by donating a range of produce for the leaders to use on the platters. What a fantastic initiative from the Fernbrooke Healthy Eats leaders!