The City of Kingston’s five bustling Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services have enthusiastically adopted the Vic Kids Eat Well program – and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
The state-wide movement focuses on transforming the food and drink environments where kids spend a lot of time.
The City of Kingston in the south-east of Melbourne, runs their OSHC services at St Joseph’s Primary School, Chelsea Primary School, Southmoor Primary School OSHC, St Patrick's Primary School and Le Page Primary School.
When Council was approached by Central Bayside Community Health Services about the new Vic Kids Eat Well initiative, they welcomed the nutrition support.
Educational Leader at City of Kingston OSHC, Kylie Slater, said the whole team was attracted to Vic Kids Eat Well because it aligned with their duty of care, values and responsibilities to support children to be healthy now and into their future.
“All five Kingston OSHC services joined Vic Kids Eat Well. The initiative is great because it enables our services to make a difference to children’s’ health and wellbeing during their important school years,” Kylie said.
St Joseph’s Primary School OSHC
At St Joseph’s Primary School OSHC in Chelsea, the team said the changes they made as part of Vic Kids Eat Well helped improve meals for the up to 60 children who attend daily. The Program Leader at St Joseph’s said the site now runs cooking experiences every fortnight based around its many cultures and with a focus on healthy eating.
There are children from more than 20 cultural backgrounds attending the OSHC and the team has amassed a big collection of multicultural cookbooks the children use for inspiration, which supports inclusivity.
Since adopting Vic Kids Eat Well, the team has reported that the children have been more involved with the planning, preparing and serving of meals and are proud of the healthy meals they’ve created. They love to discuss cultural backgrounds and foods.
The Vic Kids Eat Well initiative offers ‘bites’ – which are bite-sized changes organisations can select to adopt. As part of the ‘put the 'fun' into fundraising’ bite, this OSHC site now presents healthier options. Children could previously select discretionary items like hotdogs and donuts for celebrations.
“With Vic Kids Eat Well, our children still have autonomy over items chosen but we confidently present healthier options like plain popcorn for movie events,” the Program Leader said.
St Joseph’s OSHC has also reduced flavoured milks as part of the Vic Kids Eat Well ‘refresh the fridge’ bite. Plain milk, milk alternatives and water are now the main drink options, with delicious fruit smoothies now made regularly.
The children are choosing – and loving – healthier snacks such as apples, bananas, mandarins, unsalted popcorn and yoghurt with frozen berries.
“By improving meals as part of Vic Kids Eat Well, students are noticeably more excited for afternoon snacks, with extra energy to be active,” the team has reported.
St Patrick's Primary School OSHC
St Patrick's Primary School OSHC, which has up to 50 children a day, has also completed ‘bites’ offered as part of Vic Kids Eat Well. The Program Leader said the children have been learning to make cooking experiences inclusive so everyone can eat and enjoy what they make.
The Program Leader said the children have been very interested in trying new foods and different tastes.
“The children have enthusiastically researched healthy recipes and then they’ve been involved in cooking. Groups of children work independently and cooperatively while learning about nutrition.”
The Program Leader also said they’ve been respectful of children who have anaphylaxis, allergies or dietary needs.
As part of Vic Kids Eat Well, the St Patrick's Primary School OSHC team has weekly discussions with the children to get ideas for menu plans. Their new healthier options include more milk, cheese, yoghurts and dips. Children have been assisting with online ordering, including more vegetable and dairy offerings. They are also now hosting fortnightly cultural cooking experiences and sharing cultural recipes.
Kingston Council and its network of OSHC sites have benefited from the support provided by their local health professionals as part of Vic Kids Eat Well.
To get started with Vic Kids Eat Well, the Central Bayside Community Health Services team visited the five sites to review offerings and get a better understanding of the food and drink environments and needs of the children at each service.
Kylie Slater said committing to Vic Kids Eat Well was an acknowledgement that Kingston’s OSHC services can make a difference through simple and healthy food and drink changes for children.
“Our local health promoters at Central Bayside Community Health Services have taken a lead role and provided a lot of support,” she said.
“Vic Kids Eat Well connects to the other services Central Bayside Community Health Services provides, like healthy eating and wellbeing seminars – their team have really gone beyond expectations for us.”