Story: Food For Thought
It is a well-known fact that good nutrition is vital for good health. Children who have poor nutrition, skip breakfast and snack on the wrong foods cannot perform to the best of their ability at school.
According to experts, approximately 20 to 30 per cent of children are overweight, with the highest concentration being among adolescents. It has also become evident that fat toddlers go on to be become fat children who in turn become obese adolescents. It is therefore extremely important to start educating children from a very young age about the importance of nutrition and forming healthy eating habits.
Many schools run daily nutrition programs as part of their everyday operations. One such school is Save The Children Preschool at Mooroopna in Victoria. The preschool, which has been running since 1969, is very proud of the strong nutrition program it has created for its 60-plus kids.
Everyday the preschool has a morning fruit session, with each child bringing in a piece of fruit to place in a fruit basket that they all share. At this time the children also have a glass of milk or water. The kids are encouraged to bring nutritious lunches with them and to include a variety of foods from the five food groups. Snacks are allowed but they too must be healthy.
“Encouraging children to eat a healthy and nutritious diet teaches them to be health conscious as they grow into young people. This we hope will help prevent health problems in the future” said Aileen Atkinson a member of staff at the preschool.
Save The Children Preschool has found that these practices have helped to form sound nutritional habits for parents and children alike. The parents become accustomed to providing a nutritious lunch for their child, so that when the child starts infants’ school, parents have already fallen into the routine of preparing healthy food. The children also get used to eating a healthy lunch every day.
“The fruit and lunch program is a very good idea because it gets the parents and children ready for school.” Says Trish Gribble a parent of students at the preschool.
This program at Save The Children Preschool heightens nutritional awareness among the children from an early age and helps them to form sound eating habits. These eating habits can then carry them through to school, where their understanding and awareness of the importance of nutrition in staying healthy and strong will put them in a better position to perform well in the classroom.
“The fruit and lunch program we run is a very positive and encourages a healthy snack and lunch in preparation for school” said Andrea Woodward, another staff member of the school.
Nutrition is a daily issue at Save The Children Preschool. The children are encouraged to eat healthy foods from the word go and this is reinforced throughout the whole year.
Special funding from the National Child Nutrition Program will be provided to conduct more nutrition programs for Indigenous kids in the coming year. These programs will have an education focus in support of the National Indigenous English Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, which identified poor nutrition as a primary cause of children’s reduced capacities to concentrate and learn in the classroom setting.
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