Bundy pick of the crop for pilot school nutrition program
DESIGNED to encourage the future leaders of Australia to maintain a nutritious and active lifestyle, a pilot program will be launched in Bundaberg.
Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQLD) selected Bundaberg as one of the first locations to trial the Pick of the Crop program, teaming up with Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers (BFVG) and Building a Healthy Bundaberg Alliance.
Launching today at Kalkie State School and set to roll out across 24 state primary schools in the region from Term 1 next year, the school-based program will educate students about nutrition and the farming industry.
HWQLD chief executive Dr Robyn Littlewood said she couldn't think of anywhere better to implement the Pick of the Crop program than Queensland's largest food bowl.
"For us, Pick of the Crop is the most exciting thing that we have done because we have designed this all with you - kids, families, teachers, the community and the Mayor," Dr Littlewood said.
"As one of one of the largest growing regions in Australia producing a diverse range of healthy and nutritious produce, Bundaberg is a great fit for this pilot, which is the first of its kind for Queensland and for the nation."
Dr Littlewood said with only 6% of children aged eight to 11-years-old consuming their daily requirements of fruit and vegetables, the program aims to promote a strong message in schools about the benefits of eating a healthy diet.
"From bringing growers into classrooms, to reinforcing student learning through school gardens, healthy tuckshop menus and school events, Pick of the Crop will support schools to take actions that contribute to a positive food culture across the entire school environment," she said.
Funding received as part of the program has appointed a designed program co-ordinator who will be based at the BFVG office, to assist schools with identifying their key priorities and aspirations for nutrition.
Some strategies that have already been raised include the installation of gardens, sprinkler systems and chicken coops on the school grounds.
"This program is really about empowering the schools, students and caregivers into making healthier food choices and what better place to do that then in Bundaberg, which is the food bowl of Australia," BFVG managing director Bree Grima said.
"We like to boast that we have a crop grown here for nearly every letter of the alphabet and we can provide the entire meal from start to finish.
"By creating that connectivity between the schools, students and our farmers so they can ensure where our food is coming from, how it's grown and most importantly, the people behind it, then that creates a real appreciation for the food that ends up in their lunch boxes and on their plates."
The announcement of the pilot program comes after Bundaberg Regional Council and HWQLD launched the Building a Healthy Bundaberg Alliance initiative, to improve health and wellbeing in the region.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said thanked HWQLD, BVFG and local farmers for their contribution and commitment to students in the Bundaberg region.
"Our students are certainly the pick of the crop and as the old adage goes, from little things, big things grow," Cr Dempsey said.
"(Bundaberg has) some of the most magnificent farmers in Australia and some of the largest givers to the Australian food bank and this initiative will mean our future leaders will really be the ambassadors for fresh food and a healthy lifestyle.
"We know that this will continue to grow as the great fruit and vegetables will continue to grow right across our region."
State Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said it was fantastic news to roll out the pilot program right here in the Bundaberg region.
"We're going to have 24 schools across the region with local produce and it's a great partnership between Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers, the council and the State Government," he said.
"To have a healthy body and a healthy mind, you need to eat healthy, so we need to make sure our young people in our schools are eating their carrot sticks, celery and having their apple a day and we can do that with this great program.
"The best part is it is very likely the lunches that these kids have are going to have are going to come straight from their own school gardens."
Bundaberg is one of three locations where the pilot program will be rolled out, with the $1.7 million project expected to benefit up to 60 schools and 19,000 students across Queensland.
Schools participating in the Pick of the Crop program will also have the opportunity to access grants of up to $5000 for small projects that support the initiative.