Palm Beach kids have big headstart

Palm Beach State School?s Olivia Moody, 11, and Reece Blake, 11, dine out on tuckshop convenor Sandy Taylor?s healthy menu opti
Palm Beach State School?s Olivia Moody, 11, and Reece Blake, 11, dine out on tuckshop convenor Sandy Taylor?s healthy menu opti

THE State Government's announcement last week of the Healthy Food and Drink Supply Strategy for Queensland schools is set to radically change the diet of children on the Gold Coast.

While some schools will be scrambling to get in place their new healthy menus by the June 2006 deadline, it will be business as usual for students and staff at Palm Beach State Primary School.

Principal Mark Ionns and his colleagues started siphoning out the bad and putting in the good two years ago and by the time the State Government Smart Choices deadline rolls around, students will be well adjusted to the healthy options available at the school's tuckshop.

"We've been doing this over time, slowly reducing the items that would be in an unhealthy category," Mr Ionns said.

"You can't do what Jamie Oliver did and go straight healthy straight off. There has to be some trade-offs and that's what Smart Choices is all about."

The Smart Choices program operates on the colour system of green, amber and red. Green encompasses foods that children should eat a lot of; amber covering foods that have some nutritional value, and red covering items of negligible value that will only be served on a couple of days per term at the tuckshop.

"The program involves making sure you are eliminating as many of the red sources as you can which includes sausage rolls, deep fried food, soft drinks and things like that," Mr Ionns said.

"We're tackling obesity and the healthier menus certainly will help but it's not a fix-all solution, it has to be a part of the whole deal."

Tuckshop convenor Sandy Taylor said that she and physical education teacher Eric Alexander had worked together for the past two years on the school's menu and in that time they have limited the serving of pies and sausage rolls to one or two days a week and completely phased out the very unhealthy products.

"We're serving more fruit and things like popcorn and things like pikelets," Ms Taylor said. "So with the new legislation coming in we're pretty much on track with it anyway."

Mr Ionns and his staff are also trying to change what food the children bring into the school by educating them on what they should eat and how much exercise they should get in order to be fit.

"By being creative and making it their prefered choice we will help these kids to live healthy lives," Ms Taylor said.

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