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Creating a supportive environment for healthy eating at Beerwah State School

Beerwah State School recently hosted two, fourth-year Nutrition and Dietetics students from the University of the Sunshine Coast to complete a 5-week long public health nutrition project as part of their placement year.

The aim of the project was to communicate the Department of Education’s Smart Choices Guidelines to parents and students, and explain why the school is updating the tuckshop menu to support students to make healthy choices.

What students, Tayla and Ashlea, managed to achieve in such a short timeframe is nothing short of impressive. During their time they were able to link the school’s Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program to the tuckshop menu, and work in the tuckshop to conduct a special taste testing session for students and parents, which got the whole school community excited about the changes being made.

Why was the project important?

Childhood is a pinnacle time for growth and development. Good nutrition plays an important role in supporting a child’s learning, healthy growth and development.

Given one-third of a child’s daily food intake is consumed in the school setting, schools play an important role in promoting and providing good food to support them.

The students’ aim was to collaborate with the school in co-designing ideas and solutions and make important partnerships that could continue into the future.

They created videos for parents and students to explain the rationale behind changes to the tuckshop menu, focusing on the importance of making healthier food choices to support health and education.

How did they do it?

  1. They got involved with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program by encouraging students to cook and try new foods in a supportive environment with their friends. The goal was to find foods that the kids liked from the garden, and adding it to the tuckshop menu.
  2. Assisted in the tuckshop by preparing, serving and packing orders, testing recipes and collaborating with volunteers on menu ideas.
  3. Attended the A Better Choice Conference and Expo to gain inspiration for the project and hear about success stories from other schools that have implemented positive and sustainable changes to their school tuckshop.
  4. Conducted taste testing sessions with students and parents to assess menu satisfaction.
  5. Developed two videos (one for students, one for parents) communicating the changes to the tuckshop menu. The videos were created to be interactive and engaging and showed the school students’ reactions to the new menu items.
  6. Assisted in recruiting new tuckshop volunteers through a sign-up sheet at the school assembly.

Key learnings

Throughout the project, Tayla and Ashlee were impressed by how open the students were to getting their hands dirty in the school garden and trying new foods, particularly taste testing with their friends.

Clear and concise messaging to the school community was important to convey the benefits of positive food options; and teamwork, good collaboration and passion were essential in driving positive and sustainable change.

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