An exciting new Victorian-wide healthy food and drink movement is refuelling kids in Ballarat. Vic Kids Eat Well aims to transform food and drink options in schools, sports clubs and community settings to provide children with the healthy start they need to learn, grow and play.
Mount Rowan Secondary College was the first school to join Vic Kids Eat Well in the Ballarat area. Principal, Seona Murnane, said the school prioritises providing a healthy food environment for their students.
“We take our duty of care seriously and wanted to support students in accessing healthier food. We also happily responded to parent requests for improved canteen options for kids,” Miss Murnane said.
“By joining the Vic Kids Eat Well movement, we hope it will be a chance for our students to get more involved with healthy eating ideas and requesting changes.”
Vic Kids Eat Well is helping organisations to take simple, achievable steps that include ditching sugary drinks, boosting healthy food options in canteens and removing unhealthy marketing.
The new initiative is supported by the Victorian Government and is delivered by Cancer Council Victoria’s Achievement Program, in partnership with Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Advisory Service.
Tope Adepoyibi, a program head from Cancer Council Victoria, said Vic Kids Eat Well was about the community coming together to boost healthy eating right from the start so kids could be at their best.
“We all want our kids to attend school, play sport and attend their local community centre free from unhealthy food and sugary drinks. Vic Kids Eat Well is supporting schools and other community organisations to make healthier food and drink options front and centre in their canteens, kiosks and vending machines,” Ms Adepoyibi said.
“Vic Kids Eat Well offers support for community organisations to help them adopt healthy changes. For example, a school might select to increase the availability of fruit, while a community centre might choose to refresh the fridge by swapping sugary drinks for water,” Ms Adepoyibi said.
Lucinda Hancock, CEO of Nutrition Australia VIC said Vic Kids Eat Well was a simple initiative for schools and other community organisations to support children to live healthier lives.
“As organisations settle back into their normal routines this year, there is an opportunity for them to rethink their canteen offerings and switch to healthier food and drink options. Vic Kids Eat Well provides the motivation, engagement and support organisations need to make the switch,” Ms Hancock said.
Organisations that participate in Vic Kids Eat Well will have access to dedicated local health support staff, practical resources and incentives to celebrate success.
As well, Central Goldfields Shire Council and 12 more priority communities across the state will receive additional hands-on support through the recently launched Healthy Kids Advisors initiative, delivered by Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and supported by the Victorian and Australian Governments.
Organisations can learn more about Vic Kids Eat Well and join at: vickidseatwell.health.vic.gov.au
Case study: Ballarat’s Mount Rowan Secondary College
Mount Rowan Secondary College has around 580 students and principal Seona Murnane said her school is looking forward to being part of Vic Kids Eat Well.
“By joining the Vic Kids Eat Well movement, we hope it will be a chance for our students to get more involved with healthy eating ideas and requesting changes.
“We now offer daily canteen meal specials where [we cook] things like big trays of chicken pasta bake with vegetables, baked potatoes with all the trimmings and vegetarian pizzas. While these foods are really healthy, we also demonstrate that food isn’t just a ‘heat and serve’ concept. We like to reduce packaging too,” Miss Murnane said.
Tameaka Lakey, Health Promotion Officer at Ballarat Community Health, supports the school to review menu options and will help integrate Vic Kids Eat Well principles into existing practices.
“I’m looking forward to working with Mount Rowan to consider the four healthy food and drink ‘bites’ that are changes offered as part of the new Vic Kids Eat Well movement,” Ms Lakey said.