Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . Search

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 8 Hansard (22 August) . . Page.. 2498..


Children—food choices

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (6.01): I am sure that most members, like me, have on their shelves a very thick and useful cookery book authored by Stephanie Alexander. However, people might not be aware that Stephanie Alexander has taken her passion for food to the educational level through the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation. It began at Collingwood College in Victoria, the state in which Stephanie lives. She writes:

Over the last few years I have found myself thinking more and more about the ways in which children learn about food. For many children there is no way they can relate the food they see in bottles, packets and jars with soil, sunshine, ripeness and satisfying activity ...

I am convinced that changes in food choices do not come about as a result of cautionary advice, charts or pyramids, but by example and by positive experiences.

This debate is relevant to the continuing so-called obesity debate. Stephanie wanted to investigate whether, by creating and caring for an extensive vegetable garden and then preparing and cooking the harvested produce, young people could develop greater enjoyment of flavour and texture, a better understanding of culture and culinary difference, and an increased understanding of the relationship between growing things and caring for the environment. An equally important part of such an experiment would be sharing around the table and talking about what was being eaten.

In May 2001 Collingwood college created a kitchen garden for students from grade 3 to grade 6. Students range in age from between seven and 13. Each child in the group spends a single period each week in the garden and a double period in the kitchen. The kitchen manager and the gardener, who are not teachers, are assisted in each class by the classroom teacher and by some of the wonderful volunteers that have become interested in the project.

On 10 August the Premier of Victoria announced that he had teamed up with Stephanie Alexander—he had probably bought her book years before—to expand a successful school program to help tackle childhood obesity and encourage healthy eating. It was announced that grades 3 to 6 schoolchildren from across Victoria would soon be growing, cooking and eating their own delicious, healthy food at school under a unique $2.5 million joint program. Forty schools will be able to apply for $62,500 two-year grants to help children grow into active, healthy adults.

So that is the outcome of Stephanie Alexander's passion for good food. That pilot program in Collingwood college, which is what it turned out to be, is now being rolled out across primary schools in Victoria. I think $62,500 for two years is adequate funding to establish such a garden. Even if we instituted that pilot program in the ACT, schools would need to feel that they had security of tenure so they could see out the two years and beyond for such a garden.

I commend this program as something that could be considered in the ACT. When I was president of Yarralumla primary school parents and citizens association we did

Next page . . . . Previous page. . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . Search