Rushworth College is located south-west of Shepparton and is a primary to year 12 school with 144 students.
Danae Rush from Kyabram District Health Service approached the school about Vic Kids Eat Well and their secondary school nurse could see the program was perfectly aligned with the school's renewed focus on providing kids with healthy food and drink options.
“The school’s leadership team was keen to review the canteen menu as part of their strategic planning for the year ahead. We were looking to improve the foods we offered kids to help support their daily learning and activity,” the secondary school nurse said.
“It’s so important to have school leadership onboard. We can’t implement healthy changes without their support,” she said.
Rushworth College’s business manager said Vic Kids Eat Well provided structure to take small steps towards big outcomes.
“Educators across the board look for ways to do better. When Vic Kids Eat Well came along it fit so brilliantly, as it gave us a vehicle to review the canteen menu with benchmarks,” said the school’s business manager.
Healthy changes, simple swaps
Working with their local health promoter and guided by Vic Kids Eat Well’s ‘ bite-sized changes’, canteen manager Christine added a veggie-packed lunch option, looked at drink sizes and said goodbye to soft drinks. Students embraced the changes.
“Our new lasagne is home-made and packed with tasty vegetables, including zucchini, mushrooms and grated carrot. On cooler winter days this has become a best-seller among students.”
“While we now mainly encourage kids to rehydrate with water, we also now offer slightly smaller serving sizes of flavoured milks and fruit juices, this was an easy change.”
“We’ve moved away from selling soft drinks at school; even on sports days we haven’t had any pushback from our students.”
“Since making the swaps inspired by Vic Kids Eat Well, we’ve looked at our canteen sales figures and they haven’t decreased. That’s really encouraging,” the school’s canteen manager said.
The school’s business manager praised Vic Kids Eat Well, saying the ‘small bites’ made it possible for the school to self-select changes that worked for their canteen.
“Having our local health promoter Danae there to help us adopt the Vic Kids Eat Well program was fantastic – she made it so easy to make significant changes that have really impacted the lives of our students,” the business manager said.
Looking to the future
Now that Rushworth College has embraced Vic Kids Eat Well they will aim to progress through the broader Achievement Program, adding the ‘healthy eating priority area’ to their goals.
The health promotion team at Kyabram District Health Service had an existing relationship with Rushworth P-12 College.
“We will continue to support the school with the Achievement Program’s physical activity benchmark,” the health promotion team said.
“Having already established a positive, trusted relationship with the school made it easy to embrace Vic Kids Eat Well’s bite-sized changes as part of an overall action plan we developed together,” the health promotion team said.
“The changes we’ve already made will underpin some of the improvements we’ll look to adopt when we get to other parts of the broader Achievement Program,” they said.
Health promoter Ms Rush added that Vic Kids Eat Well is a simple program to follow.
“With Vic Kids Eat Well, being able to self-select from the action areas makes it simple for schools and other organisations – it’s great that way,” she said.
“Vic Kids Eat Well is also an easy stepping stone to the wide-reaching Achievement Program, which includes support in other areas such as mental health, vaping, sun protection and also offers a climate and health pathway,” Ms Rush said.
Vic Kids Eat Well is supported by the Victorian Government and delivered by Cancer Council Victoria’s Achievement Program, in partnership with Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Advisory Service.
The City of Greater Shepparton is one of 13 priority communities across the state that has additional hands-on support for Vic Kids Eat Well through the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative, which is delivered by Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and supported by the Victorian and Australian Governments.