New program will roll out in Mid Murray schools to promote healthy eating habits

HEALTHY AND FRESH: Students from Morgan Primary School are pictured performing 'carrot sticks'. Photo: Supplied.
HEALTHY AND FRESH: Students from Morgan Primary School are pictured performing 'carrot sticks'. Photo: Supplied.

A new nutrition program is set to be pioneered by students in Mid Murray school this term which will promote lunch box choices free of wrapping and encourage life long healthy eating habits.

The four week program, Fresh Frenzy, has been rolled out across upper primary age children in Mid Murray schools following a successful pilot program in Truro last year.

Mid Murray council’s obesity prevention and lifestyle (OPAL) Program Manager Amy Loechel designed the program alongside dietitian Bianca Gazzola. 

Ms Loechel said the program was designed to promote positive change in the mindsets of children.

“We want to empower students to become better role models for promoting healthy eating in their school and improve healthy eating attitude, knowledge and behaviour,” she said.

Ms Gazolla said a survey of over 350 children, parents and school staff in the Mid Murray region showed strong insights and facts about the types of food children consumed on a daily basis.

“The statistics showed that while schools are doing really well in increasing water consumption, we found that packaged, unhealthy foods, or “wrapper foods” that are high in sugar, salt and fat are a big issue in the average lunchbox,” she said.

“We also discovered that many of the students simply did not understand the old ‘go for two fruit and five vegetables a day’ dietary recommendation.”

Ms Loechel said the programs interactive nature will help engage students and guide them into healthy eating habits.

“We ask the children to collect their food wrappers for a week so they get to see a visual picture of the types of foods they are eating,” she said.

“Kids get to set their own individual goals in regards to healthy choices and they also write a letter to their parents about what they are trying to achieve.”

Ms Loechel said the program was simple enough for young children to understand basic food preparation, serving sizes and how to interpret food labels for nutrition information. At the end of the program students will reflect what they’ve learned.