Life Ed Queensland’s award-winning Healthy Eats program has flourished in schools across the state, changing young mindsets and entire school food environments.
With one in four Queensland children between 2 and 17 living with obesity or overweight, the groundbreaking program works with individual schools across the year to boost vegetable and fruit consumption in young people and promote healthier choices in the wider school community.
In 2023, Healthy Eats reached 612 Queensland school children through the Healthy Eats classroom nutrition session and more than 7000 students through whole-school initiatives.
Supported by our Healthy Eats community development officers, schools are resourced and empowered to implement program initiatives which have ongoing impact:
Three new schools achieved Healthy Eats accreditation in the past year – St. Benedict’s Catholic School and Port Douglas State School in North Queensland, and Loganholme State School in South East Queensland – taking to ten, the number of schools who are Healthy Eats accredited, after successfully ticking off 10 program milestones.
Community development officers Megan and Jaclyn were kept busy delivering classroom nutrition sessions in Healthy Eats schools in North Queensland and in the state’s southeast.
A program focal point, the interactive nutrition module gives students the chance to learn about the human body, the overall health benefits of good nutrition and how food can impact growth, mood and energy levels. Students also learn how to read the nutrition labels on their favourite foods and investigate what might influence their food choices. The session ends with a hands-on activity where children create their own delicious, healthy snack.
Taking Healthy Eats to Townsville was a highlight for educator Megan, who visited Garbutt State School, Townsville West, Aitkenvale, Vincent State School and Currajong State School. These visits were funded by Townsville Communities for Children, the Australian Government and facilitated by The Smith Family Townsville.
Megan helped run a breakfast club at Aitkenvale State School during her visit in March, supporting teachers and other volunteers to provide students with a healthy start to their day.
“It was great to get back out to Townsville for the classroom sessions. It’s always exciting to see all the smiling faces ready to learn about healthy eating,” Megan said.
In South East Queensland, nutritionist and community development officer Jaclyn led professional development for teachers, parent workshops presenting savvy lunchbox ideas, joined passport challenge school picnics and established Healthy Eats activity stations during Under Eights Week at both Loganholme and Woogaroo Creek State Schools. The activities support the program’s whole-school philosophy which reinforces good nutrition across the school community, a model that is pivotal to the success of Healthy Eats.
Thriving veggie gardens and a tuckshop menu that is delicious … and healthy, are just two of the exciting milestones achieved at Port Douglas State School, after the school adopted Life Ed Queensland’s Healthy Eats program.
Port Douglas became the tenth school to gain Healthy Eats accreditation since the program’s inception, after working towards the milestone over a two-year period.
Healthy Eats empowered the school to establish thriving fruit and vegetable gardens, introduce healthy brain breaks and create an active student leader group. Healthy Eats also connected the school tuckshop with the Queensland Association of School Tuckshops (QAST) who worked with them to review and re-design their menu to meet Smart Choices requirements. The new tuckshop menu even achieved a four green apple rating from QAST – a great achievement!
“It was very exciting to receive the news we had achieved accreditation,” says Jelena Edmonds, the Port Douglas State School Healthy Eats Coordinator. “The whole school worked together to achieve this Healthy Eats milestone, and we are all so proud of each other.
“This achievement really demonstrates how committed everyone at Port Douglas State School is to the health and wellbeing of our community.”
The school is especially proud of their fantastic fruit and vegetable garden bursting with banana trees, eggplants, tomatoes and lettuce – a plentiful source of produce for the tuckshop and in-class cooking activities. The garden has also served as a focal point for class lessons throughout the Healthy Eats project, supporting the curriculum and helping all year levels learn how to nurture the garden as a food source.
Another highlight saw Healthy Eats student leaders pitch in to lead a healthy lunchbox challenge and implement ‘Health Hustles’ – a fun activity getting students to move their bodies and make healthy food and drink choices.
The Parents and Citizens Association also created two hugely popular activities that supported the schools Healthy Eats goals – the P&C Juice Days, where students can bring a cup to fill with nutritious fresh fruit and veggie juice made with produce provided by the community; and Breakfast Club, which is run by school volunteers. With research showing many children are missing out on a healthy breakfast, the school breakfast club ensured students were getting their best start to the school day.