Pick of the Crop program growing in Logan as survey shows kids reap benefits

A program to get Queensland kids eating more veggies and fruit is expanding to more schools in the Logan region, as initial results suggest it’s shifting students’ attitudes towards eating their greens.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland’s Pick of the Crop program is growing in 2022 to reach up to 100 schools, and 35,000 students, across the state. This includes 18 new schools that can sign on in Logan, which was picked as one of the first locations for the healthy eating program.

The expansion potentially gives up to 21,500 students across 34 Logan schools the opportunity to learn about, grow and taste veggies and fruit. Children’s Health Queensland is on board as a new partner to support Logan schools taking part in Pick of the Crop.

Today’s announcement comes on the back of a promising report card of the 2021 pilot rolled out in 35 schools across Logan, Bundaberg and Bowen.

In an evaluation survey of schools involved in the trial, all agreed that:

  • Students had increased knowledge about vegetables and fruit.
  • Students had improved attitudes towards eating vegetables and fruit.
  • There was greater awareness among students of locally produced fruit and vegetables.
  • Vegetables and fruit were more available at school, including as snacks at school events.
  • Students and families had more access to produce from school gardens.

Health and Wellbeing Queensland Chief Executive, Dr Robyn Littlewood, says the results are an encouraging sign that the program can make a difference to the future health of Queensland kids.

“For the first time in Queensland we are realising the true benefits of such a program with the research to back this up,” Dr Littlewood said.

“We’re thrilled to hear kids have been willing to try more fruit and vegetables through this program and boosted their knowledge and skills around our state’s great-tasting produce.

“Vegetables and fruit are vital to children’s health, but we know Queensland kids aren’t eating enough of them. Only about five per cent of children eat the recommended five serves of vegetables every day.

“Supporting children to make healthier food and drink choices will set them up for a healthier future, so we’re keen to build on this success and put veggies and fruit on the menu at more schools.”

Kimberley Park State School Principal James Forrest said the school community was excited to be involved in Pick of the Crop.

“Our school is committed to developing young people that are physically and mentally healthy, so the Pick of The Crop program enables us to give our students a highly connected experience to growing, cultivating and consuming healthy fruit and vegetables,” Mr Forrest said.

“The dream is that the skills and knowledge the students learn from the Pick of the Crop program stays with them into their future life, and ensures our next generation of Logan citizens are acutely aware of the benefits of quality food on their health and wellbeing.”

Up to $5,000 in funding is available to new schools to get activities off the ground, and continuing schools have the opportunity to access grants of up to $2,000 to sustain Pick of the Crop projects, which range from school gardens and classroom lessons to veggie and fruit-focused events and activities.

Children’s Health Queensland Chief Executive Frank Tracey said the Pick of the Crop program was planting the seeds for healthy eating habits that would set children and young people up for the best possible future.

“Children’s Health Queensland is proud to be partnering with Health and Wellbeing Queensland to deliver this important initiative in Logan schools. We’re committed to supporting and nurturing healthy environment to improve long-term health and wellbeing of children, families and the broader community.”

Flourishing project

  • 35 schools were part of the 2021 Pick of the Crop pilot, reaching about 10,000 students.
  • The pilot included nine Logan schools, reaching about 5500 local students.
  • 100 Queensland schools are eligible to take part in 2022, up from 60 in 2021, with a potential reach of 35,000 students across the state.
  • 34 schools in Logan are eligible to sign on this year, with a potential reach of 21,500 students.
  • There are 45 eligible schools in the Bundaberg and Wide Bay region, and 21 in North Queensland.