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Student Gardens High On School Wishlists

12 September 2008

Student Gardens High On School Wishlists

Waikato District Health Board has granted more than $225,000 to seven local schools and two early childhood centres for their planned projects aimed at improving nutritional environments.

Two 'cluster projects' also received funding for initiatives that include a combined effort from several schools in their area as well as the community.

Maramarua, Kaihere, Ongarue, Rangiriri Kura, Te Kuiti, Forest Lake, Rhode Street primary schools along with Fairfield Kindergarten and Four Winds Ngahau Preschool received a combined total of more than $70,000.

A Tokoroa cluster, involving 13 schools, received almost $90,000 and a Te Awamutu Eastern Zone cluster involving six schools received almost $70,000.

This funding is in addition to the $414,000 already granted to other schools in two previous rounds of the Nutrition Fund, part of the Ministry of Health's Healthy Eating Healthy Action (HEHA) strategy.

Waikato DHB was responsible for distributing the fund locally and all schools and early childhood centres within the DHB area were encouraged to apply.

HEHA district co-ordinator Sheryl Hanratty was pleased to see a significant increase in the number of applications for this third round of funding.

"The response was fantastic. Schools and centres are becoming increasingly aware of the fund, the criteria, and how they can support an improved nutrition environment for their children.

"We are still keen to see more applications from the early childhood sector and the secondary sector, but are well aware that there are many other competing priorities in centres and schools," she said.

Seven of the projects focus on a garden for students to learn about growing fruit and vegetables.

"Gardens continue to be a popular project which is great to see.

"A garden can link closely with curriculum learning, engage students in a practical way, and provide a focal point for parental and wider community support.

"We all know that if children are involved in the growing and preparing of food then they are more likely to want to eat it," Ms Hanratty said.

Other projects include: * providing a water-friendly environment and fully functional kitchen for students * establishing outdoor eating areas for interval, lunch and shared community occasions.

Ms Hanratty said it was also pleasing to see the two cluster applications.

"These encourage schools to work together to share best practice and to pool their knowledge and resources in achieving their goals.

"Cluster applications also have real potential to positively influence the wider community," she said.

The Tokoroa cluster project will be a series of school and community initiatives focused on improving the nutrition of students in their school settings and at home.

A series of workshops will be held to encourage parental understanding of nutrition and physical activity. Students will be taught the same at school to compliment what their parents have learnt and to provide consistent messages between home and the classroom.

One of the aims of the Te Awamutu eastern zone cluster project is to provide the students with healthy, nutritional food that meets Ministry of Health Food and Beverage Classification System guidelines and as a result, help the students to learn about nutrition and produce growth.

Part of this project involves student research on how they can improve school menus to ensure they are both healthy and attractive to other students.

Applications for round 4 of the Nutrition Fund are currently being processed and one more round will be held in March 2009.

For more information about HEHA and the Nutrition Fund visit


About Waikato District Health Board and Health Waikato:

Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 353,460 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $915 million and employs more than 5300 people.

Health Waikato is the DHB's main provider of hospital and health services with an annual budget of $530 million and 4500 staff. It has seven divisions across five hospital sites, two maternity and continuing care hospitals and 21 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.

Other Waikato DHB-funded health services - including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories - are delivered by a wide range of independent providers.


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