Convincing kids that healthy food can be both tasty and fun has long been a challenge for parents and educators, but leading children’s health education charity Life Education Queensland has hit on a winning formula that is changing the menu.
Healthy Eats, Life Education’s innovative program designed to boost veg and fruit consumption in primary school aged children was created in response to alarmingly low rates of vegetable consumption in Aussie kids.
Piloted in North Queensland, the award-winning program has now expanded to primary schools in Logan, Ipswich and the Gold Coast – with Eagleby State School, Ipswich East, Riverview and Gaven Primary all jumping on board the healthy food wagon. Life Education is now seeking funding to enable the program to continue to grow and support more schools.
Life Education Queensland CEO Michael Fawsitt said Healthy Eats aimed to engage the whole school community including parents, teachers and students to influence healthier food and drink choices.
“We’re so excited to be able to bring Healthy Eats to schools in the southeast,” Mr Fawsitt said.
“We launched Healthy Eats three years ago in 20 north Queensland schools, with funding from the NQPHN, and the results were amazing. 100 percent of participating schools said Healthy Eats had made a positive difference, and 80 percent of schools reported a significant improvement in fruit and vegetable consumption.”
“We are aiming to have a similar impact in southeast Queensland schools, and we’re seeking support from the Queensland Government to ensure it continues to grow.”
Healthy Eats includes a raft of school and home-based activities including an engaging hands-on classroom nutrition workshop delivered to year 5s that gets all students creating and trying new foods in a fun and positive food environment.
The program also supports schools to implement breakfast programs, brain food breaks, intra-school competitions, recipe ideas, teacher lesson plans, support for tuckshops to become Smart Choices compliant, student leadership opportunities, and tips to get the school vegetable garden thriving with backing from Bunnings.
Ipswich East State School is one of the first schools in the southeast adopting the program, and students are embracing the healthy eating message.
“Eating healthy food actually helps your hair grow and it means our bodies have less chance of suffering illness and disease,” said Ipswich East Year 5 student Jaxyn Miabox.
Alicia Kusu said the session reminded her that healthy food can be fun and tasty while Logan Daw learned how food is fuel for the body.
“If you eat everyday foods, your lungs get stronger and your body and brain get stronger,” Logan said.
Life Education Queensland nutritionist Jaclyn Coffey said the response from southeast schools had been incredibly positive.
“It’s much more than just teaching children to identify and enjoy healthy foods,” Ms Coffey said. “We utilise a whole toolkit of resources that are adapted to individual school needs.
“It’s exciting to witness a real transformation in children’s eating habits. By the end of the program, students understand why it’s important to eat healthy to get the nutrients and energy their bodies need, but they also gain clear strategies on how to adopt healthy choices.”
Healthy Eats schools that work towards creating a ‘gold standard’ healthy school food environment and become fully Healthy Eats accredited will be eligible for a range of rewards including:
To find out more about the Healthy Eats program, the accreditation process and rewards available to your school visit here.