Programme bears fruit

Corn for morning tea delivered and prepared by year 13 pupil Damian Scott (17), got the thumbs up...
Corn for morning tea delivered and prepared by year 13 pupil Damian Scott (17), got the thumbs up from this year 5 and 6 class at Roxburgh Area School.
Wednesday morning tea is one of the highlights of the week for junior pupils at Roxburgh Area School.

Every week they get to try different fruit and vegetables delivered to their classroom as part of a new healthy eating programme adopted by the school.

The project was a great example of what schools and early learning centres could put in place with government funding through the Nutrition Fund, distributed by the Otago District Health Board, the board's Healthy Eating Healthy Action educator Kathy Hamilton said.

The Roxburgh school recently received $3900 from the fund for a multi-faceted approach to improve the nutrition of its pupils. Physical education and health head for the junior school Maureen Compton said one of the goals was to increase fruit and vegetable consumption across the community.

‘‘Although we've started this programme in the junior school, it will extend to cover the whole school,'' Mrs Compton said.

The project includes establishing a vegetable garden on site, inviting parents to gain skills and knowledge in healthy food preparation, talks from a nutritionist, looking at options for healthy lunch orders, and providing appropriate storage to increase the options available for healthy school lunches.

The first stages of the initiative - establishing the garden and experiencing new foods - had been well received by pupils, Mrs Compton said.

‘‘They're really excited every week to see what's on the menu for morning tea on Wednesdays. And people think because we live in a fruit-growing area, the children will have tried all sorts of fruit and vegetables, but that's not always the case.''

Morning tea food so far has included greengages, red plums, pineapple, Fantasia nectarines, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.

All were grown within the district, as was this week's offering - corn.

Year 13 pupils Damian Scott (17) and Nichola McLaughlin (18) are responsible for this part of the programme and they research the options, source the food, prepare it and distribute it, and even give the children a description in advance of how it tastes.

‘‘Most of the children try whatever we bring around,'' Damian said.

‘‘Sometimes they say they won't like it, but because their friends try it, they do too.''

Mrs Compton said that was one of the successes of the programme.

‘‘We're trying to get them to try things they might not have tried before, and they are.''

Applications are being accepted now for the next round of funding and Otago schools and early childhood education services can apply for a share of $170,000 from the Nutrition Fund.

Miss Hamilton said the review panel that considered the first round of applications was impressed by the depth of Roxburgh's proposal and how it targeted pupils from new entrants right up to year 13.

‘‘Roxburgh Area School clearly shows a commitment to improving the wellbeing of the children and the entire community on an ongoing basis,'' Miss Hamilton said.

The aim of the fund is to support the development and implementation of nutrition policies and practices within schools and early childhood education centres. It also aims to improve the quality of food and to encourage pupils to make their own healthy food choices.

More than $68,000 has been distributed to 28 Otago schools and early childhood education services in the first round of funding approved earlier this year.

There is no minimum amount for each project but the maximum figure for a grant is $10,000. A proportion of the funding is allocated each term.

- Applications close on April 4 and more information is available from Kathy Hamilton on (03) 470-3870.

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter