I’m always heartened by how sensible children can be when it comes to eating.
Often when faced with a food choice, they will independently choose the healthier option. As adults, it’s our responsibility to ensure those choices are available.
Can you make a difference at your kids’ school? In my experience, absolutely. In fact, as parents we are often charged with the task of providing food at social and sporting events and class functions. Sometimes this is directly and sometimes this is via the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). If everybody makes a conscious effort to ensure their plate is a healthy one, it means our children are presented with the ability to choose wisely.
We’ve done this with great success at our school in Wellington. At a recent sports day barbecue, we offered a healthy option alongside the standard hot dog. We also made fresh fruit smoothies as an alternative to store-bought popsicles. Almost a quarter of the students chose the smoothie – proving that healthy can equal the more delicious option.
Gone were the lollies, the crisps and the soda at our Christmas disco. In went the freshly popped popcorn and the water. Small squares of chocolate were also for sale so, in line with our ‘healthy choices’ commitment, we put together a colourful fruit salad served in its own reusable cup. The fruit cups rocked harder than the music! We found that the number we pre-prepared was nowhere near enough and so manic chopping and pot-stuffing ensued. This also prevented any wastage, which resulted in a healthy profit for the school.
Now that a Healthy Food Policy (HFP) is in place at the school, it’s easier to prepare and cater for class functions. Teachers and parents are beginning to respond positively. Gone are the days when shared lunches were 50 per cent cookies and cakes. We still have a way to go, but it’s inspiring to witness such a massive improvement. I have created a database of healthy and economical food options that parents can access and this makes it easier for them.
So what’s our next step? Getting all of our students to grow edible plants at the school and using that produce as the basis for meals that they prepare themselves. This is a huge project for a large school with very little spare space to cultivate but hey, you’ve got to dream big! Imagine every student coming into contact with soil and truly understanding where food comes from, how to nurture it and make it grow? Even better, using that lovely, organic produce as the basis for a hearty class meal prepared and eaten communally.
That’s the dream. We’re working towards it.
Judith Yeabsley is a mum of two boys who is
passionate about healthy food for kids. Her blog
The Art of Nutrition is a popular place to find inspiration for fun, healthy, creative food for kids big and small. Judith describes her mission as “how to present healthy food creatively so it is delicious looking and impulse-creating, so kids can’t wait to tackle the plate”. The focus is fruit, vegetables and whole grains. The plates are designed to be made by the average time-poor parent, in the average kitchen, using readily available ingredients and working on a budget.