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Healthy Kids Community Challenge Hastings and Prince Edward Hosts Event

November 3, 2017

By Lynn Roblin, Senior Policy Consultant, Nutrition Resource Centre 

On September 27, Kristina Smith, Local Project Manager of the Hastings and Prince Edward Healthy Kids Community Challenge hosted a professional development day “Choose to Boost Nutrition in Schools” for elementary school teachers. 

Two educators from each school were invited to attend and over 70 participated in the day, which was planned to support teachers to increase opportunities for nutrition education in schools, in particular to support theme 3 – Choose to Boost Veggies and Fruit.  This was one of several key initiatives, like the launch of their “Veggies & Fruit Month” for schools in October, that HKCC Hastings and Prince Edward focused on as part of their HKCC action plan for theme 3.

The day included a presentation by Andrew Fleet, founder of Growing Chefs Ontario, who talked about the value of food and nutrition education in schools. He inspired educators to get involved in activities focused on using food—where kids are involved in planning and preparation and simply having fun with food.

Fleet outlined the history and development of the Growing Chefs program and the support they have received from the London community.  The program provides children with confidence, knowledge and enthusiasm to grow and prepare good healthy food.  The program supports good food education for children and families through programs targeted to schools, family cooking nights and training opportunities for youth in the Beet Café.

Lynn Roblin, Registered Dietitian and Senior Policy Consultant from the Nutrition Resource Centre  spoke about planning effective school nutrition programs to increase vegetable and fruit intake in children. Hands on experiential learning such as food preparation, taste testing and gardening are effective strategies to use in schools. 

Nutrition education can be integrated in the curriculum across a variety of subject areas and can be supported by social marketing of key educational messages. Focus on increasing whole vegetables and fruit, for example, rather than fruit juice.  School programs can extend to home through tailored nutrition education to parents, caregivers, and children.  A resource list developed by NRC was provided to participants.

Jennine Seaman, RD at Hastings Prince Edward County Health Unit
Lynn Roblin, RD and Senior Policy Consultant at the Nutrition Resource Centre
Kristina Smith, Local Project Manager, Healthy Kids Community Challenge Hastings and Prince Edward County.

Nicolas Pena Parra & Wynette Tavares from FoodShare did a show and tell of how to grow food in a classroom.  They discussed a variety of ways to grow food in the classroom from starting seedlings that could be transferred to a garden, to growing plants on a wall in plastic bottles and tower gardens that involve hydroponic growing.   They did a taste testing activity that had participants guessing what they were eating.  They brought along seedling samples, a worm composter and talked about how to set up a school garden and curriculum connections. 

Allison Phillips, RD and Heather Yearwood from the Hastings Prince Edward District School Board conducted hands on tasting activities for educators to try in their classroom.  Activities that could be used across the curriculum in math, science, social science, language and arts programs were emphasized.  One activity included having students take stickers off of vegetables and fruit and place them on a map.  This inspired a discussion about where our food comes from and how we could look for more local foods.

HKCC HPE will be coordinating several local programs and activities that will encourage families in Hastings and Prince Edward counties to include more vegetables and fruit in every meal and snack. Some of these activities include:

  • Activities in local elementary schools to highlight Veggie and Fruit Month
  • Increasing the capacity of their local Good Food Box
  • The Leaders of Change initiative, which aims to recognize local organizations that make it easier for families to access healthier food and beverages

Check out their website with many great resources including a fun launch video all about veggies and fruit. Slides from this event can be found on the HKCC Hastings and Prince Edward County website here


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