School dinners will never be the same again

School dinners

31.05.2012

Pupuils at a Gateshead school are delighted to be tucking into healthy school dinners that definitely won’t leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Lunchtimes at Oakfield Junior School have been revolutionised thanks to parent power and the dedication of school chiefs whose new initiative focuses on serving up nutritional nosh and encouraging activity to achieve a ‘healthy school award’.

With the help of sporting stars such as Fab Flourney of Newcastle Eagles and Mark Wood from Durham County Cricket Club, the children embarked on an action packed launch week to kick start their healthy new lives.

Lorraine Coulson, mother of Daniel Coulson (10), and Northumbrian Water water said: “Childhood obesity is a real problem so myself, two other parents, the school and the school council decided to work hard to implement changes and get the children eating healthily and being more active.”

Through her employer’s employee volunteering scheme, Lorraine decided to use her volunteer hours helping her son’s school.

Lorraine continued: “The school doesn’t have its own kitchen so the delivered meals were being kept hot for up to an hour before they were eaten. Popular choices ran out and it also meant a reduction in quality. There was also limited capacity for fruit / salad options and the children were complaining that portions weren’t large enough. Something had to be done.”

Alan McKenna, father of Charlie (9), is a chef at McKenna’s Restaurant at the Northern Stage and kick started the health week with workshops for parents giving them healthy meal and packed lunch ideas. He also held taster sessions for the pupils encouraging them to try new foods.

Fab Flourney fired the children’s enthusiasm through his sporting background and motivational skills at a special assembly. As did Mark Wood, who carried out a health and fitness Q&A session with the children and told them about life as a professional cricketer.

Low Fell Running Club worked with the children on activities such as Frisbee golf and the Fab Food Funhouse, a healthy eating gameshow, took place to educate the children about leading a healthy lifestyle.

Northumbrian Water’s healthy eating comic book heroes, the H20 gang visited the school today, Thursday May 31, 2012, to see how changes have been implemented.

Matthew Pendleton (11) said: “I now eat far more fruit and vegetables than I used to, and found they’re not as bad as I imagined.’’

Sam Lynn (11) agreed: “No they are not as bad as I thought, most vegetables are really quite tasty. I now eat more healthy food than I used to!!’

The school now operates a system whereby children order their lunch choice at register so enough of each meal can be cooked and delivered. A new industrial sized fridge means more fruit and salad options can be sent to the school and there is also a reward system in place choosing and eating fruit and vegetables.

Head teacher, Matthew Thompson, said: “It’s been a fantastic start to our new Healthy Living drive. I’m delighted with the uptake of healthy options. The change is visible on pupils plates and I’ll do everything I can to encourage this for a long time to come.”

For media enquiries contact Philippa Clark on 0191 301 5538 or philippa.clark@nwl.co.uk.

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