Can­nons Creek pupils go healthy

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By BRIAR BABINGTON

Get­ting chil­dren to eat their veg­eta­bles can be a never-end­ing battle, but pupils at Can­nons Creek School are chomp­ing at the bit to get their teeth into them.

The Gar­den to Ta­ble pro­gramme is in four Welling­ton pri­mary schools and sev­eral oth­ers else­where in New Zealand. It teaches chil­dren about grow­ing, har­vest­ing and pre­par­ing fruit and veg­eta­bles from their gar­den.

With num­bers of child­hood obe­sity and type 2 di­a­betes ris­ing, Can­nons Creek School kitchen co­or­di­na­tor and di­a­betes nurse Tess Clarke said the pro­gramme helped chil­dren to learn about why it was im­por­tant to put good food in their bod­ies.

‘‘ They’re learn­ing fresh and healthy food can be not only nu­tri­tious, but it can be eas­ily made and can be pretty tasty, too,’’ Clarke said.

The school has its own gar­den and grows an ar­ray of fruit, veg­eta­bles and herbs, cul­ti­vated by the pupils and vol­un­teers.

So far, the pupils had made ev­ery­thing from hum­mus with car­rot sticks and herb scones, to warm potato cur­ries for the colder months.

Af­ter the har­vest­ing and food prepa­ra­tion, the stu­dents have a les­son on food nu­tri­tion be­fore they sit down to eat the food they have pre­pared.

The pro­gramme helped ex­pose the chil­dren to new foods they might not have had the op­por- tu­nity to try be­fore, Clarke said.

‘‘The first year we did the pro­gramme, we made a potato and spinach curry and most of the kids couldn’t tell me what a raw potato was.

‘‘ Lots of them wouldn’t eat veg­eta­bles, and within a few months they were eat­ing and clean­ing up all the food and com­ing back for sec­onds.’’

Welling­ton co-or­di­na­tor Nicky Bought­wood said that aside from its ob­vi­ous health benefits, the pro­gramme taught chil­dren to know where food came from and that it didn’t have to be bought from the su­per­mar­ket.

‘‘Even just buy­ing a pasta sauce in a jar, or a canned soup, and know­ing that you can [make] it your­self,’’ she said.

‘‘ I was vis­it­ing a school the other day and we made pump­kin soup. [The pupils] had only ever had it from a can, and it’s just so sim­ple and cheap to make.

‘‘A lot of kids re­ally love the gar­den­ing and get­ting stuck in and dig­ging. It’s quite phys­i­cal. Or [they love] the cooking, and the eat­ing, ob­vi­ously.’’

Clarke and Bought­wood said they would like to see Gar­den to Ta­ble avail­able in more Welling­ton schools.

‘‘One of the great things about the pro­gramme is what the kids learn here in the class can be ap­plied across the cur­ricu­lum,’’ Clarke said.

Can­nons Creek’s pro­gramme is funded by The Ware­house and Healthy Fu­ture Fam­i­lies Trust, which is com­mit­ted to im­prov­ing the health of the com­mu­nity.

Photo: BRIAR BABINGTON

Alyssa Sch­wal­ger and Gase­toto La­musitele with the chillies they have grown in the Gar­den to Ta­ble pro­gramme.

– Tess Clarke

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