Galway school awarded for healthy eating initiative

Scoil Naomh Bríde in Tullykyne, Moycullen, has been named Healthy Heroes School of the Month for May, thanks to the students’ efforts in promoting healthy eating, sharing the honour with a school in Co Cork. It is among hundreds of primary schools across the island of Ireland that are participating in the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club initiative from the Irish Bread Bakers' Association and Bord Bia, which aims to educate children on how to improve their lunchtime habits.

Designed by teachers and behaviour change experts with the support of Dr Mary McCreery, one of Ireland’s foremost consultant nutritionists and dieticians, the popular initiative is now in its sixth year.

Scoil Naomh Bríde principal Christopher O’Neill said: “The sixth class girls run the programme with the junior and senior infants to get them on the right track in terms of healthy eating as soon as possible. The girls encourage the smaller children with good example and praise. They learned about the food pyramid and what should be in a lunch box. The lunches improved once they understood what was expected. The older girls get as much from the programme as the little ones."

Healthy Heroes Lunch Club gives primary school children the opportunity to engage in peer-to-peer learning, which fosters valuable leadership, teamwork, and communication skills, all the while learning to change their eating habits for the better.

Ailbhe Byrne, who oversees the programme on behalf of the IBBA, said that the programme is going from strength to strength. “It is encouraging to see the positive feedback from Scoil Naomh Bríde which shows the success of the peer-to-peer aspect of the Healthy Heroes programme," she added. "The younger children enjoy playing with the older children, while the older children get to improve leadership, teamwork, and communications skills. At the same time, all participants have fun learning about healthy eating with their classmates.”

The programme contains useful tips and suggestions on ways to include fruit and vegetables in lunch boxes as well as easy-to-understand information on the food pyramid and the contents of the ideal lunch box. The lunch of the month also offers plenty of suggestions that are designed to encourage children to have a balanced lunch.

Dr Elizabeth Finnegan, healthy eating executive with Bord Bia, said: “The Healthy Heroes programme has encouraged the children to improve their knowledge of food and where the items in their lunchboxes come from, while at the same time supporting an interactive learning environment. By eating a variety of healthy foods such as seasonal fruits and vegetables and carbohydrates such as potatoes and breads, the children are incorporating a diet that keeps them fuelled in school all day long.”

For more information on how schools can get involved in the Healthy Heroes Lunch Club, visit www.fooddrinkireland.ie/healthyheroes or email [email protected].

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