Welcome to the latest edition of the Healthy Eats Grapevine.
It’s been a very busy Term 2 for our Healthy Eats team, welcoming new schools to the program in North and South-East Queensland, delivering classroom sessions, providing teacher professional development, and getting out and about, providing Healthy Eats education to kids from schools in the North Queensland Gulf and Savannah regions, during the annual Gulf Kids week.
Our Healthy Eats schools have been busy too, developing their school fruit and vegetable gardens, organising their Healthy Eats leadership groups and creating marvelous tuck-shop menus for their school community to enjoy.
One of the great things about the Healthy Eats program is its community focus, and how each school comes together to achieve common goals. It’s always great to hear the stories of how individual schools are progressing and have made the program their own.
A great example of this, highlighted in this edition, is the terrific work being done at Riverview State School with their student leadership group, and we spotlight Hampden State School achieving official Healthy Eats Accreditation.
The Growing Good Garden’s grant, a partnership between Yates and Life Education is now open, and provides a great opportunity for school’s to gain funding for their garden projects. Ten grants of $1,000 will be provided to winning schools.
We also share a healthy recipe from Deanne, the convenor of the Currajong State School tuckshop – her award-winning garlic chicken wrap is sure to be a hit with the whole family!
I would like to wish you all a safe, happy and healthy break in the coming weeks and look forward to another successful term ahead.
CEO, Life Ed Queensland
In this edition:
Something good is always cooking in the Currajong State School tuckshop – the Caterpillar Café! So, we decided to take five and speak with Convenor, Deanne about her tuckshop.
How long have you been the Convenor at Currajong’s Caterpillar Café?
I have been convenor for 14 years. I had been volunteering at the tuckshop when the position came up and I thought it would be a great opportunity.
What makes a great tuckshop menu?
Healthy choices are key, and variety is also important, but you don’t want too many choices on the menu otherwise it gets a bit overwhelming for primary school kids. Using specials is a great way to add variety while also having consistency.
Can you explain a little about your menu planning process and how you decide what will feature?
I plan a menu for 12 months with all the staple items that will be offered all year, and then decide on what specials we will have. I try to have warming options in the winter months like risotto or curry and lighter options in the summer months. You also want to make sure you know what sells well and include it on the menu each year.
What are your top 3 menu items and do any of them surprise you?
Our best sellers are Hawaiian pizza, sushi and the croc wrap (chicken, lettuce, mayo and tomato) – all made fresh on site. I’m amazed that the croc wrap is still a favourite – it has been on the menu for years!
What is the best part of your job?
I love kids, and I love seeing their happy, excited faces over the counter each day. I also really like being able to problem solve for them, for example if they forgot their lunch or someone forgot to put in the order on time. It’s so great to see them happy and relieved when you can solve that problem for them.
What are your top tips for creating a healthy tuckshop menu?
It is not as hard as you think, it is really easy, and even easier with a little bit of good time management. Try to have back-ups available by pre-making and prepping what you can. Making it greener doesn’t mean making it harder.
How long have you been a member of the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops (QAST)?
I have been a member of QAST for about 14 years and have been on the management committee for 5 or 6 years. They are really supportive and can help with so many different questions – everything from menu recipes to running the tuckshop as a successful business.
Does the tuckshop ever use produce from the school fruit and veg garden?
We haven’t for a couple of years now as we haven’t had anyone dedicated to looking after it, but before that we did. The kids would get a real kick out of knowing the lettuce on their croc wrap was from the school garden. I’m looking forward to seeing the garden thriving again with the Healthy Eats program.
What were your first thoughts when you found out the school was implementing the Healthy Eats program?
I didn’t know much beforehand, but I think it is great. The Caterpillar Café is already Smart Choices compliant and has held a 5 green apple rating from QAST for a few years now, so we are ahead there. It is always great to see the school support healthy eating initiatives and what is happening in the tuckshop.
Would you recommend working with Healthy Eats and QAST to other school tuckshops?
I definitely would! I would also say don’t be afraid to make changes – have faith in yourself. Remember the tuckshop isn’t supposed to be a fast-food take-away shop, that’s for outside of school. The tuckshop is there to help students and staff to get the most out of their day through good nutrition.
During March, Healthy Eats Community Development Officer, Jaclyn travelled to far North Queensland to participate in the regular Gulf Kids Days.
Run by the Gulf Savannah NRM, the event offered schools a program of fun-filled and educational activities from a range of community-focused organisations, such as Life Ed Qld, over an exciting three-day schedule.
Jaclyn traveled to three schools across the week – Georgetown State School, Mutchilba State School, and Healthy Eats accredited – Biboohra State School who hosted the events which were attended by eight schools from across the region.
More than 260 kids had the opportunity to visit the Life Ed Qld Healthy Eats booth, where they could learn about the rainbow of fruit and vegetables, how to create their own colourful healthy school lunchbox, and test out their fruit and veg knowledge by guessing which foods were inside the mystery box.
Jaclyn was delighted by the attendance at the event and felt it was a great opportunity to reach kids in some of the more rural areas of North Queensland.
“It was a great event, and so much fun to see, and spend time with all the kids while helping to teach them about the importance of healthy eating. It was a great way to share the different ways they can aim for their 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of veg each day,” Jaclyn said.
After working hard all year, it was fantastic to see Hampden State School, located just north of Mackay, achieve full Healthy Eats Accreditation at the end of 2021.
Judy Vidulich, principal at Hampden State School was delighted to receive the news that Hampden had achieved Healthy Eats accreditation.
“This is a great achievement for our school community. We have really embraced the program and made it part of the everyday activity of our school, which has been of real benefit to our students and community,” said Judy.
Hampden State School strives to embody their school motto ‘Learning for Life’ and actively seeks out ways to engage their students and support them to learn skills that will benefit them into their future, which is why the Healthy Eats program was such a great fit for the school.
Judy was particularly keen for the school to participate in Healthy Eats, having previously experienced a kitchen garden program at another school.
“I think it is really important for kids to understand where their food comes from, how it can be grown, the benefits and nutrients these foods provide our bodies and how students can make their own delicious and healthy snacks, lunches, dinners etc. using foods from their garden.
“Being located in a rural area, with lots of farming really helped when starting the program, as many families already have that garden to plate knowledge. The program adds value by providing the why and how of eating healthily,” said Judy.
A large part of Hampden’s success was cultivating great relationships with a number of supporters including the P&C who runs the school breakfast program, along with the local Bunnings who have been able to help with things such as gardening advice and equipment.
“It was important to have the support of the P&C for the program and when developing the food and drink policy in particular. Together we were able to look at the current food environment and see how we could improve it so we could gain benefits in the long run,” said Judy.
Hampden found that Healthy Eats worked particularly well for the school because it aligned with the curriculum, especially the area of food technology, enabling students to better understand how healthy foods can affect the body and make that connection between physical and mental health.
“We found the students were really happy to be part of the program, and there were plenty of activities that engaged them, especially the Passport competition. The students loved that! They were so proactive in making sure their school lunches included fruit and veggie options they could record each day and many students were even willing to try some new fruits and veggies!” said Judy.
When asked if she would recommend the program to other schools, Judy was very sure of her answer.
“I would definitely recommend the Healthy Eats program and accreditation to other schools. There is plenty of support available and the staff, students and families within the school really benefit,” said Judy.
Establishing a Healthy Eats student leadership group is an important part of the Healthy Eats accreditation criteria and is a great way to enable peer-to-peer teaching/learning within the school.
South-East Queensland Healthy Eats Community Development Officer, Jaclyn recently visited Riverview State School in Ipswich to meet with their Healthy Eats student leaders’ group to discuss ways they could promote healthy eating to more members of the school community.
The group was very enthusiastic and had some great ideas for ways they could support and promote healthy food choices within the school.
“This was a great opportunity to meet with the school leaders and talk about the importance of healthy eating.
“We had a great brainstorming session, where the Year 6 leaders came up with some ideas for getting more involved in activities that support healthy eating, along with some great new initiatives they could undertake themselves,” Jaclyn said.
The leaders identified the garden as a fantastic way they could promote fruit and veg and decided to start becoming more active in the garden club by running a food scraps collection program to contribute to the school compost.
“The leaders will come up with a skit and slogan to promote the compost program at their next parade, which is such a wonderful way to make sure the whole school feels involved and is more aware of the Healthy Eats program,” said Jaclyn.
Did you know every Healthy Eats tuckshop receives a Menu Health Check as part of their QAST membership?
The QAST Menu Health Check service will compare your menu against the Smart Choices Food & Drink Supply Strategy, as developed by the Queensland Government, and will work with you to create an ‘easy to manage’ menu that includes healthy food and drinks choices your whole school community will enjoy.
How Do I Have My Menu Health Checked?
How much does it cost?
Healthy Eats QAST members: NO COST
Tuckshops that have already completed the Menu Health Check can also contact QAST for help with implementing menu changes, as well as recipe and menu ideas.
For more information speak to your Community Development Officer or visit the QAST website.
Healthy Eats and QAST aim to work in partnership with you on your tuckshop menu. We appreciate that you are the experts in your school community!
Applications for the 2022 Growing Good Gardens Grants Program are now open.
To submit your application, visit lifeed.org.au/growing-good-gardens-grant
Teachers, coaches and community leaders alike are encouraged to apply to create a garden space where kids can learn healthy habits and improve their physical and mental well-being.
Applications close for the Growing Good Gardens Grants Program on Friday 15 July 2022. Complete your application for the opportunity to win one of ten $1,000 grants for your school, preschool or community groups’ garden. Thanks to Yates, this year you could also DOUBLE your grant and receive $2,000 for your healthy garden.
Applying is easy
Not sure what to include?