St Clair Public School pupils are looking forward to picking the newly planted strawberries in their vertical vegetable garden — a gift from the Cancer Council’s Eat It To Beat It program team for being among the first 15 schools to join the initiative.
Regional nutrition project officer, Nina Tan, said the program aimed to boost families’ fruit and vegetable consumption to enhance health and help guard against cancer.
‘‘It’s estimated that between 5 and 12percent of cancers can be prevented if you eat the right amount of fruit and vegetables,’’ she said.
‘‘Eating more fruit and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy weight, and being overweight or obese is strongly linked to a variety of cancers.
‘‘There are also some protective properties like fibre, vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables.’’
Assistant principal Gwen Renshaw said nutrition was an integral part of the curriculum for pupils in year 2 to year 6.
‘‘We’re seeing some positive changes in the students and their eating habits,’’ she said.
‘‘Their attitude to eating healthily is changing.
‘‘The engagement and motivation has been fantastic, particularly with the students who don’t really like pencil and paper and who need hands-on learning.’’
An outdoor classroom with whiteboard and shade cloth is set up next to the school’s garden beds.
Two of three special needs classes also make use of the vegetables grown.
‘‘Every day they pick, they harvest, they prepare, they cook and they eat,’’ Ms Renshaw said.
‘‘Who would have thought that spinach and mushrooms and all those things would be appealing to children? We do it with a very minimal budget.
‘‘It’s pretty amazing.’’