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Encouraging healthy eating in local schools

This February, Kananook Primary took great strides towards becoming a health promoting school by receiving recognition from the Achievement Program for Healthy Eating. This is quite an accomplishment thanks to the passionate parents who ignited the whole school community to create a thriving kitchen garden program.

These parents, headed up by parent Rebecca Gaiwski, are keen to share their passion for growing fresh produce. This group is affectionately known within the school community as The Frog Squad!

In 2018, The Frog Squad completed the Creating Capable Leaders Program through School Focussed Youth Services. They took their role as leaders very seriously, developing a kitchen garden and healthy eating strategy that would benefit the entire school community for many years to come.

The Health Promotion team began providing support to Kananook Primary School in April 2018. We assisted the school to develop a policy for healthy eating, shared opportunities for staff professional development and helped to embed healthy eating learning opportunities into the school curriculum.

Momentum for the kitchen garden began to build in September 2018, after Rebecca successfully received funding through the Stephanie Alexander Playground to Plate Grant Scheme. This funding allowed for an overhaul of the school kitchen with new food preparation benches, a dishwasher, washing machine and oven purchased as well as materials for an irrigation system and raised vegetable beds. At this point, it became very exciting for the Frog Squad as they witnessed their vision slowly coming to life.

The garden is now thriving thanks to parent volunteers who recently helped to harvest juicy cherry tomatoes and an abundance of crunchy apple cucumbers.

The fun for students really kicked off in February 2019 when the school held its first healthy eating class. The students explored what they could make from the vegetables in their garden as well as gaining their wheelbarrow licences. The students relished the hands on learning opportunities as they experienced how to grow, maintain and harvest the produce in their garden. The icing on the cake for students was cooking the fresh produce they watched grow from a seed into a delicious and healthy meal!

The garden is now an important feature of Kananook Primary.

“Our students find the hands on activities in the garden calming,” says Assistant Principal, Stuart Gilchrist. “The garden is a very positive space for students and staff to spend time in.” 

It was wonderful for the Health Promotion Team to work with this inspiring school. We look forward to supporting other schools, workplaces and community settings to make healthy eating a priority.

This blog was written by Kayla Di Maio, a volunteer in the Health Promotion Team at Peninsula Health.

If you are interested in creating a healthy environment, would like to partner with us, or have a question please contact us at: healthpromotion@phcn.vic.gov.au