Since Stephanie Alexander started the first Kitchen Garden Program at Collingwood College in Melbourne in 2001, more than 170,000 children have been getting out in the garden and learning lifelong skills of growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing fresh, seasonal food.
Now, the number of schools taking part has reached 500, with students from Randwick Public School in Sydney joining in the unique food education program.
Learning to love fresh, healthy food
As well as teaching valuable skills and instilling a love for healthy food, the program is designed to be fun, which Stephanie Alexander says is directly linked to its success. As the kids learn to care for a garden, plant and harvest food and cook simple and nutritious dishes, they engage in hands-on activity that encourages teamwork and social interaction.
“I strongly believe that the way to change how kids feel about food is for them to learn about it from the very beginning, from planting a seed, and watering it in, to harvesting food when it is ready, bringing it into a kitchen and cooking it before sitting around the table and eating with their friends,” Stephanie says. “As their dish is praised by their peers their pride shows. Very quickly students will readily try unfamiliar foods.”
Teachers agree that the Kitchen Garden Program is a great initiative that positively supports classroom learning. A recent evaluation of the program by the University of Wollongong found that 97 per cent of teachers reported that students found the hands-on activities engaging and it aided learning across other subject areas, as well as improving social behaviours.
Proudly supported by the Medibank Community Fund
Medibank is proud to be the principal partner of the Kitchen Garden Foundation, and Medibank Managing Director George Savvides joined Stephanie and the Foundation to celebrate the 500 schools milestone.
“Encouraging healthy eating habits, greater physical activity and community connectedness are the three core aims of the Medibank Community Fund,” George says. “Through our shared goals with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, we are proud to have played a role in helping Australian children and their families achieve a much greater awareness and understanding of healthy food and eating practice.”
Find out more about the program at kitchengardenfoundation.org.au