Nate James, 5, left, with Masterton Holdsworth Lions Club member Glenys Hansen, Zuane Botes, 5, Keralee Thomson, 5, and Imogen Ogden, 5. PHOTO/EMILY NORMAN
Children at Masterton Primary School were willing to try new flavours out for lunch last week as they were taught a thing or two about healthy eating.
In an initiative by the Masterton Holdsworth Lions Club, young schoolkids engaged with a healthy lunch programme, to encourage them to make wise choices about what they eat.
Food platters complete with cherry tomatoes, sliced capsicum, egg filling, carrot, cheese, and cold meats were given to the kids as inspiration to make their own sandwiches.
This was followed by a serving of fruits including bananas, strawberries, kiwifruit, mandarins, pineapple, and grapes.
Glenys Hansen of the Masterton Holdsworth Lions Club said it was the third year the club had facilitated the programme with Masterton Primary School’s junior syndicate, and it was the first year that, parents, grandparents, or carers had been invited along.
The idea behind the programme was to encourage healthy eating and acceptable portion sizes for school lunches, she said.
Too often, kids would bring packaged foods or huge store-bought muffins to school, she said, when the appropriate portion size is only a quarter of that.
“Sometimes parents feel they don’t have enough time,” she said.
“But when it comes to a child’s health, you need to make the time.
“You really have to make the time.”
New entrance Year 1 teacher Kate Pearce said it was hard work encouraging kids to eat vegetables, but in a group environment, it was more likely they would give new tastes a go.
“This is really good because it gives mums and dads lunch ideas, and the kids also see their peers trying something different, so they might try something new too.”
She said packed lunches could sometimes be a daunting job for parents.
“Even though you don’t imagine it would be daunting, it is – it’s just one more job they have to do at the end of the day or in the morning.
“That’s why it’s easy to put packets of things in. Sometimes they just need new ideas.”
Syndicate leader Stephanie Hoy said in a world where packaged food was readily and cheaply available, “we’re always going to be fighting against that highly exciting and coloured food product”.
“The message we want to get across to parents is that we are creating lifelong healthy habits right from the word go.
“It’s okay to say no to your child’s food choices.
“Because if you present them with all the fun stuff, of course they are going to choose the fun stuff.”
She said, as an Enviroschool, there were environmental benefits of healthy eating because a reduction of packaged lunches would result in a reduction of plastic.