Healthy meals at the heart of new school teaching resources

Food and nutrition/technology classes at schools around New Zealand are being offered contemporary, visually appealing and online tools, following the launch today of the Heart Foundation’s new Food Curriculum Project resources.

Four students in classroom with baked frittata they've made

Aimed at food teachers of year 7 and 8 students, the resources are the result of a collaborative project involving the Heart Foundation, vegetables.co.nz and over 50 teachers from around New Zealand. They look to enhance some of the great work that is already being done by teachers.

Heart Foundation Food and Nutrition Manager Dave Monro says Massey University research in 2017 looked at what was being taught in food classrooms across 120 schools in New Zealand.

“The results showed that there were opportunities to provide updated educational resources that would better equip children with fundamental life skills to enable them to cook healthy meals within their budget, cultural and time requirements”.

“Among the key findings were the need for lesson plans and resources to teach kids food skills, and promote nutrition and well-being using digital technologies. Also identified by the teachers as priorities, were the need for a central pool of current resources and ongoing professional development.”

Heart Foundation Food and Nutrition Manager, Dave Monro with two students in classroom cooking

Using the study results, the Heart Foundation and vegetables.co.nz took a ‘by teachers, for teachers’ approach in developing the materials to meet curriculum requirements. Industry associations - Home Economics and Technology Teachers Association NZ [HETTANZ] and the New Zealand Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools [NZAIMS] - have also been involved and the project is funded by the Ministry of Health.

This collaborative team work has resulted in a comprehensive suite of free downloadable resources which include a unit plan of 8-10 lessons and supporting activities that can be used by food technology and home economics teachers.

“Each lesson includes an important food skill with a healthy recipe. Many of the activities are interactive allowing the students to use digital technologies, tablets or smart devices. The resources can also be customised to suit the needs of different teachers and students.”

A series of ‘Easy Meals with Vegetables’ skill cards and videos have also been created to add to the suite of resources.

Vegetables.co.nz Chairman Andre de Bruin says, “We are proud to be a partner in this project teaching kids how to cook a healthy meal and look forward to supporting teachers in the ongoing use of these valuable resources.”

Dave and Andre agree that they expect the resources will bring a stronger focus on students preparing a main meal which includes plenty of vegetables and hope the kids take them home and use them together with parents and whānau.

The Heart Foundation and vegetables.co.nz will continue to work closely with teachers on the ongoing use of the resources. A series of professional development seminars are being held throughout the country to support teachers.

“These seminars include a food demonstration/masterclass and nutrition hot topics which provide a fantastic platform for teachers to network and learn from one another,” Dave says.

The resources are also being strongly promoted and supported by HETTANZ and NZAIMS.

The resources are available on the Heart Foundation website.