Victoria-wide community comes together to boost healthy eating at school

A new Victorian-wide movement just launched aims to transform food and drink options in schools and other community organisations in an effort to provide children with the healthy start they need to learn, grow and thrive.

Vic Kids Eat Well will support organisations to take simple, achievable steps, including ditching sugar drinks, boosting healthy food options in canteens and removing unhealthy marketing.

As much as 41 one per cent of children’s diets come from highly processed food. Adding to this, over 77 per cent of secondary schools in Australia still sell sugary drinks.

Todd Harper, CEO of Cancer Council Victoria, said Vic Kids Eat Well was about the community coming together to boost healthy eating right from the start.

“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,” he said.

Organisations that participate will have access to dedicated Vic Kids Eat Well support staff, practical resources and incentives to celebrate success.

To increase support and action in some of Victoria’s most disadvantaged communities, 13 communities will also have the benefit of a new dedicated workforce of Healthy Kids Advisors.

Delivered by the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and supported by the Victorian and Australian governments, Healthy Kids Advisors will focus on the Vic Kids Eat Well actions, providing boosted hands-on support for healthy eating in the places children spend their time.

Organisations can learn more about Vic Kids Eat Well and sign up at here

Dandenong West Primary School

Dandenong West Primary is one of the first schools to sign up to Vic Kids Eat Well. With the school already taking steps to reduce sugary drinks and leading the way in promoting healthy eating, Principal Bev Hansen encouraged all Victorian schools to join the movement.

“With Vic Kids Eat Well, we’re looking forward to reinforcing healthy eating messages and celebrating our ongoing success with our community,” Ms Hansen said.

“We are situated in one of the most multicultural localities in Australia where 90 per cent of our families speak a language other than English and a third have a refugee background.”

“We’re lucky to have a community hub onsite. We support our families through cooking and shopping programs so they can continue to cook traditional healthy meals. We also provide tips on how to shop for and prepare healthy school lunches with an emphasis on moving away from unhealthy pre-packaged snacks.”

“We removed sugary drinks several years ago and seeing our children more able to focus on learning was very rewarding. Everyone at our school knows we only rehydrate with water.”

The 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.

Main Image: Stephanie Alexander with students at Collingwood College