Food for Thought, a free nutrition education programme for Year 5 and 6 students across New Zealand is looking to expand into more schools, supporting students to learn lifelong skills to help them make healthy and informed food choices.
Delivered by Foodstuffs in partnership with the Heart Foundation, the programme has already nourished children's minds in over 7,300 classrooms across New Zealand, with over 200,000 young people having gone through the programme since it began in 2007.
Foodstuffs Head of Environmental Social Governance Sandy Botterill, and recently appointed chair of the Food for Thought Educational Trust, said nutritionists design it to empower kids to understand healthier food choices.
"Food for Thought provides tamariki with important, lifelong lessons on food and nutrition, including the benefits of eating foods that nourish our bodies, as well as understanding food labels and making healthy drink choices," said Botterill.
"It combines classroom learning with hands-on activities, encouraging kids to apply what they've learned in the real world practically."
Food for Thought typically consists of two classroom sessions, as well as a field trip to their local New World, PAK'nSAVE, or Four Square for a practical session that reinforces the skills
learnt in school.
Each classroom also receives a gift card to plan and spend on healthy kai, allowing students to reflect on the skills gained from the programme while they share a variety of healthy food with their classmates.
Supporting Food for Thought is part of Foodstuffs' commitment to be Here for NZ, which sees the co-operative of local grocers who own and operate all New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square stores across New Zealand, delivering on promises made to provide every New Zealander with access to healthy and affordable food and to support local communities to thrive.
Foodstuffs has also recently appointed Mindy Wigzell as the Food for Thought Manager. Wigzell is a Registered Nutritionist with extensive experience in nutrition and business and leads the Food for Thought team as the programme looks to expand.
Wigzell said healthy eating was a skill that must be taught to New Zealand's young people.
"Teaching children about the goodness that food provides helps set them up with healthier eating habits for life and promotes a positive relationship with food," said Wigzell.
Wigzell continued that having a colourful and varied diet based on nourishing foods encourages healthy growth and development during childhood and positive health outcomes later in adulthood, which is particularly important to help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.
"The great thing is that we often hear from the parents that children are coming home and teaching them."
These stories have shown that the Food For Thought programme has continued to make an impact, which Wigzell hoped would help carry these children through the rest of their lives.