AN effort to promote healthy food and drinks in the region’s schools, sports clubs, recreation centres, and afterschool care locations, known as the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative, has progressed.
Announced in early 2022, the program is run through the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and currently operating at 13 local sites.
Funded by the State Government as part of the Vic Kids Eat Well program, support offered by Healthy Kids Advisors include wellness education, cooking equipment, and canteen menus.
Healthy Loddon Campaspe health broker Cara Smith works in the Food in Schools and Food in Sports networks and said the programs identify communities most in need of healthy eating and fitness support.
“We’re all funded differently to do different things, but we’re all working towards that same goal,” she said.
“It’s really tough work for clubs and facilities, and the support they get is really important for them.
One of the groups assisted through the initiative was the Peter Krenz Leisure Centre.
“It’s just been amazing. They weren’t sure if visitors to the centre would be positive about the changes, but the community have been very supportive,” Ms Smith said.
“Healthy Loddon Campaspe looks at local data to see which communities are in need of support and we approach the clubs in these areas to offer support.”
Hayley McKee from Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation said program advisors engage with community members to find out what support they’d like, and the results are worked into the outcomes.
“These ideas are fed into the distinct needs of each school or organisation or club we work with to provide simple solutions to refresh the menu, increase access to water, seek out grant opportunities for kitchen gardens or kitchen equipment, and provide advice on recruiting volunteers and running healthy, profitable fundraisers,” she said.
Originally a three-year effort, Ms McKee also said the initiative in the Bendigo region would be funded for one more year.
“We would love to see every school and sport club to lean on our free service and allow local young people to gain increased access to fresh, delicious food and drink,” she said.