Children in Years 3-6 in government primary schools are being invited to grow, harvest, cook and share fresh food under a new Australian Government initiative to improve nutrition and healthy eating.

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program is inspired by the top Australian chef and is part of the Government’s plans for tackling obesity.

The Rudd Government has committed $12.8 million over four years for up to 190 primary schools nationally to participate in the program and the Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, is encouraging local primary schools to submit expressions of interest to be part of it.

Ms Saffin says the Rudd Government is serious about tackling childhood obesity, and the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program is a practical way of getting children involved in healthy food habits.

“In schools that already have a vegie plot, I’ve seen how much kids enjoy picking and eating peas and beans and even broccoli straight from the garden,” she said.

 “In this program children will work in a productive garden within their school where they will harvest the food and cook it in a purpose-built teaching kitchen, before sitting down together to taste and enjoy what they have made.

“The aim is for our children to develop life-long healthy eating habits.”

Ms Saffin said each participating school would receive one-off funding of up to $60,000 to cover infrastructure costs associated with building kitchens and gardens.

The national rollout of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program follows its successful delivery in Victoria over the past seven years.

Expressions of interest are to be submitted online by September 5 so the Government can gauge the level of interest. Applications will then be open in October.

Information is available at the Department of Health and Ageing website (www.health.gov.au) and the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation website (www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au).