West Gippsland Healthcare Group1
In 2018 Warragul Primary School (WPS) parents and staff identified a need to increase children’s consumption of healthy food and for the school community to understand the importance of good nutrition. WPS has a below average Student Family Occupation (SFO) index of 0.62 and 7% of the student cohort identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
In partnership with the WPS community and Gippsland Primary Health Network (GPHN), WGHG provided the WPS community with a weekly healthy meal cooked with the assistance of paid and volunteer parent helpers and students. Recipes were chosen that children could potentially then cook at home with only limited equipment and cooking skills. Recipes were provided in weekly online newsletters and this formed the basis for a school healthy eating social media campaign. In addition WGHG provided nutritional education to Grade 3/4 and Foundation level students which included practical student activities. Children prepared and sold healthy snacks at the local Farmer’s markets with profits being used to purchase vegetable seedlings for the school vegetable plot and this produce is being utilised in the kitchen in 2020.
Professional video to promote program
Photos to be supplied
Total 1500 meals were prepared for the school community (10 different recipes for 150 students per fortnight on fortnightly roster)
59/160 (37%) students involved in food preparation
48 students attended Grade 3/4 nutrition sessions and 20 Foundation students
Students showed increased level of nutritional education – 92% feel that they can make healthier choices and 85% tried eating new foods since the program began.
Staff survey results show 100% that the program has increased children’s confidence to try new foods, has been well received by the wider school community and would like program to continue.
WPS signed up to be part of the Victorian Government Healthy Schools Achievement Program – This work results in increased engagement in all areas of health and wellbeing.
Conclusions or Practice Implications:
- Innovative practice involving partnership of school community, health service and a local social media company
- Skills were provided by the partners and the school facilitated the weekly delivery of the lunch program
- Engagement by the school community was vital to this health promotion program success
- Program valued by Nutrition Australia with sharing of posts and video on social media
- WPS investigating the viability of developing a healthy lunch canteen with students paying a low cost for meals and alternative ways to fund into the future
Angela Greenall is a health promotion officer at West Gippsland Healthcare Group, where she has worked for 9 years.