At Heathcote Kindergarten, we provide fresh fruit and vegetables for afternoon tea, recipe ideas for sandwich alternatives and evening meal ideas. www.therootcause.com has been our main resource for inspiration and motivation. The Smiles For Miles recipe program have recipe ideas to send home for families to engage with children when cooking.
We needed to find a way to reduce packaged foods in the lunchbox, encourage healthy eating in the home and improve children’s health. Heathcote has ‘food share’ which provides food, mainly fruit and vegetables, from supermarkets in Bendigo that otherwise would have ended up in land fill. We pick up a wide selection each week and our parents cut up the food each morning when they drop off their child. We aim for 3 fruit choices and 3 vegetable choices in each bowl. The fruit is cut up into small pieces to encourage children to attempt new foods. The remaining food is placed on platters with tongs in the middle of the table for children to help themselves. The children are encouraged to, touch, smell, lick, bite or chew each food depending on the child’s development. The educators sit at the tables, roll modelling and encouraging any and all attempts to interact with the food.
As the children share in the celebrations of other’s successes, they are motivated to try new foods themselves. Afternoon tea has become an enjoyable and healthy meal time, with lots of positive conversations about food and the health benefits they have on the body. At the beginning of the year each child had their own difficulties with one or more of the food choices, but slowly, each one has found success in some way with eating and enjoying the meal time.
Families no longer need to provide snack food so the packaged foods have reduced by 95% and engagements with families has increased greatly. We have been able to educate children about health in a way that directly relates to their environment, allowing children to take ownership of their own health.
Parents are instigating conversations with staff about the food choices made at home and the conversations had at kinder. The healthy food program we have implemented has had many benefits throughout the kinder. We talk more about health, engage with the local community with food access and planting vegetables.
Our recycling has improved with food scraps going to family’s chickens and the way we value food.
The children have taken ownership for the process of eating food during afternoon tea and they enjoy it.