Schools rewarded for eating their greens

Press Release – Mother Earth

Creating children who love healthy and adventurous foods such as Curly Kale and eggplant may seem a far-fetched dream to many parents, but the three winning schools of the Mother Earth Reward are already proving they can do it.23 November 2011

Schools rewarded for eating their greens

Creating children who love healthy and adventurous foods such as Curly Kale and eggplant may seem a far-fetched dream to many parents, but the three winning schools of the Mother Earth Reward are already proving they can do it.

The Mother Earth Reward is in its first year and was created by Mother Earth in partnership with The Enviroschools Foundation. The aim of the Mother Earth Reward is to reward schools for an exceptional contribution to the promotion of wholesome food and healthy eating in families and communities.

All three schools have established vegetable gardens that are tended by the students, but have different programmes to get children trying new and healthy food.

Pukekohe’s Patumahoe School, one of the three winning schools, found that since the start of their ‘Paddock to Plate’ initiative, 100% of participants have chosen to try at least one new food, with 50% feeling more open to eating healthy food. In 25% of pupils, there had been a positive change in the food they’d accept at home.

Involving students in the solution to fight the “big cookie and chips” diet has garnered big success, says Judge Niki Bezzant, editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine.

“Patumahoe’s Paddock to Plate is a ‘full circle’ plan, it involves kids right from the start, planting and tending seeds and then harvesting, cooking and eating their produce,” says Bezzant.

Mt Albert’s Owairaka Primary School’s “Make and Take” entry was chosen by Bezzant because of its “powerful simplicity.” Lunch filling ingredients some grown at school, some brought from home are laid out once a week for children to share and choose which to put into their sandwiches.

“The range of healthy fillings are often untried and unknown by students, and parents can witness their children eating food they never dreamed they’d eat.”

Mara kai, a project from Hasting’s Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o te wananga whare tapere o Takitimu, proves that even small changes can have big results, says Bezzant.

“Mara kai gets children planting and harvesting a vegetable garden to solve the problem of students coming to school with no food and with little experience of eating nutritional vegetables.”

Every week the school holds a free soup day offering soup made with vegetables from their garden, increasing students’ vegetable knowledge and tastes. It is hoped that the project will widen to the community, with seeds given to parents to plant in their own gardens.

“Getting kids to create their own solutions seems to make all the difference to their level of buy-in,” says Bezzant. “The fruit and vegetables students grow, prepare and eat in these schools involve ingredients many parents wouldn’t dare offer at the dinner table for fear of serious reprisals.”

Heidi Mardon, founder of The Enviroschools Foundation was just as impressed with the projects that were submitted.

“The quality of the entries was very high and the three winning entries all displayed a long-term commitment towards health and sustainability. It was great to see evidence of children making decisions, of learning linked to real-life projects, and the potential that these projects have to be catalysts for change in the wider community,” she says. “With the support of Mother Earth we will continue to encourage and celebrate schools working in inspiring ways with students to create healthy lifestyles.”

Mother Earth is known for its range of muesli bars and dried fruit and nuts and has been a sponsor of The Enviroschools Foundation for the last two years.

Mother Earth is awarding $2,500 to each of the three winning schools to recognise just some of the great work that is taking place in New Zealand’s schools and early childhood education centres.

ENDS

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