Rose Valley resident Gia Stewart is on a mission to educate local children on the benefits of eating nutritious food.
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The qualified nutritionist and personal trainer recently became a facilitator for Jamie Oliver’s Learn Your Fruit and Veg program, which launched in Australia in August.
The program is a hands-on cooking and food education experience for children aged three to 12 years, and is designed to teach children about food, what it is, where it comes from and how it affects their bodies, while equipping them with valuable cooking skills for life.
“Our program is designed to bring the beauty and fun of fresh, local and seasonal produce to life,” Stewart said.
“Inspiring children by allowing them to absorb essential knowledge in a hands-on way, by tasting, playing and creating easy, delicious and nutritious dishes from scratch, increases their enjoyment of food and cooking, grows their knowledge of food, encourages kids to try new things, and through cooking, understand how to combine ingredients to make great tasting healthy foods.”
Stewart was inspired to become a qualified facilitator while she was studying at the University of Wollongong.
“I was exposed to the current health statistics in Australia, which stated that less than a third of Australian aged children between three and 17 are not eating the recommended daily fruit and vegetable intake,” she said.
“Having three children of my own, I have experienced how important it is to engage children in food shopping and preparation, as it allows their senses to feel, smell and taste a variety of flavours they would not normally experience.
“Cooking brings many elements of learning together and I love that it allows children to feel a sense of accomplishment, self-confidence as well as lots of love and laughter.
“These elements along with my passion for nutrition and good health is what inspired me to become a Jamie Oliver, Learn your Fruit and Veg Program Facilitator.”
To date, Australian facilitators have taught the program to more than 10,000 students.
Facilitators deliver 60 minute cooking incursions, with a minimum of 20 students per class and maximum of 30.
Each lesson focuses on a seasonal hero fruit or vegetable, students are taught about the ingredient; What it is, where it comes from, how it grows, how you can eat them, why they are good for you and how to prepare a simple dish with their mates.
After the class, children are given additional recipes to take home, so they can inspire their families to cook.
Facilitators provide all ingredients and equipment. No kitchen is required as all the students are taught non-heat Jamie Oliver recipes.
The cost is $15 (plus GST) per student – everything is included.