Better nutrition for children a priority

 Family Food Patch program manager Emily Rataj  with fruit and vegies at Young’s Vegie Shed, Launceston. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

Family Food Patch program manager Emily Rataj with fruit and vegies at Young’s Vegie Shed, Launceston. Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

HEALTHY eating is one of the major problems facing Tasmanian children, according to the State of Launceston’s Children Report.

The report stated that 27 per cent of Launceston children did not have access to healthy food, while many children went to school hungry.

Child Health Association of Tasmania senior executive Alison Wood said while sourcing healthy food could be a challenge, there were options for families looking to adopt a more nutritous diet.

‘‘Providing healthy food opportunities for children does not come easily for all families,’’ Mrs Wood said.

‘‘Our Family Food Patch and Growing Families programs provide families with the information and knowledge around healthy eating habits.’’

Family Food Patch program manager Emily Rataj said food education was crucial to the lifestyle children grow up to adopt.

‘‘It’s setting up habits for life,’’ she said.

‘‘If we can encourage children to try lots of different foods and enjoy a healthy diet now, they’re more likely to be healthy when they’re older and enjoy healthy foods when they’re older.’’

Mrs Rataj said that fruit and vegetables were more attainable and accessible than many realised.

‘‘It’s about finding ways to access cheap fruit and vegetables, growing your own is obviously the cheapest way, and farmers’ markets would be the next best option.’’  

One of the program’s recent schemes is the Seeds for Schools program, which provides vegetable seeds and gardening accesories to five primary schools across the state. 

Mrs Rataj said the scheme was a great way to teach kids that growing their own food was  healthy and rewarding.

‘‘There’ll be 100 kids at each of these schools who can see a seedling grow [from] start to finish, and then talk about how you can take that into a home environment.’’

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