QUEENSLAND school children will get a better appreciation for vegetables, fruit and nuts through a new program set for term one this year.
Health and Wellbeing Queensland's Pick of the Crop program was launched in Bundaberg last December with growers joining forces with schools to get kids eating more fresh produce.
Launched at Kalkie State School, Pick of the Crop will roll out across Bundaberg Region state primary schools from Term 1, 2021 with support from the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers (BFVG) and Building a Healthy Bundaberg Alliance.
Participating schools will have the opportunity to access grants of up to $5000 for small projects that support the implementation of Pick of the Crop.
The $1.7 million project is set to reach up to 60 primary schools and 19,000 students across Queensland in 2020-21.
Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQld) chief executive, Dr Robyn Littlewood, said as one of one of the largest growing regions in Australia, Bundaberg was a great fit for the pilot which was the first of its kind for Queensland and for the nation.
Dr Littlewood said only six per cent of eight to 11-year-old children consumed enough vegetables.
"A healthy diet means eating lots of tasty and colourful vegetables," Dr Littlewood said.
"From bringing growers into classrooms, to reinforcing student learning through school gardens, healthy tuckshop menus and school events, Pick of the Crop will support schools to take actions that contribute to a positive food culture across the entire school environment."
The Bundaberg pilot includes funding for the appointment of a local Pick of the Crop project coordinator to be hosted by BFVG.
The project coordinator will work with state primary schools across the region to develop individual school action plans to enhance student's learning about vegetables and fruit.
BFVG managing director, Bree Grima, said Bundaberg had an incredible diversity of fresh produce.
"We like to boast we have a crop for nearly every letter of the alphabet," Ms Grima said.
"We're proud to be working with Health and Wellbeing Queensland on this program to bring the farm to the classroom, strengthen the link between grower and consumer and showcase how easy it is to incorporate healthy foods into lunchboxes and onto dinner plates."
HWQld is part of the Building a Healthy Bundaberg Alliance which Bundaberg Regional Council recently launched to focus on improving health and wellbeing in the region.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said he was thrilled to see the Bundaberg Region selected as a pilot location.
"Council is pleased to support the Pick of the Crop pilot program being launched in the Bundaberg Region," Mr Dempsey said.
"The variety and quality of fresh fruit and vegetables produced throughout the Bundaberg Region makes us one of the most significant growing regions in Queensland, if not Australia."
"This is a fabulous opportunity for local students to understand the value of a fresh and nutritious diet while at the same time helping to raise their awareness of the thriving and vibrant agricultural industry which the region is so well known for."
"We truly are Australia's salad bowl, so we want to ensure our young people are enjoying their fair share of that lovely fruit and veg."
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