Affinity supports Healthy Food: Using feedAustralia

Across Australia, Affinity's Lifelong Learning Centres network of child care centres is embracing feedAustralia, led by centre cooks such as Daniel Try and Teresa Abra, who are committed to improving the quality of nutrition in meals provided to children in their care. 

As part of the commitment by Affinity Education Group to delivering healthy food, the feedAustralia portal has been promoted and utilised across the Lifelong Learning Centres network since it launched in early 2018.

“I thought I had it right, but I actually didn’t quite have enough serves of fruit and vegetables, so it’s been a very handy tool,” Theresa, who cooks at Milestones Early Learning Centre Tamworth CBD, said in a recent interview published in NSW Health Matters magazine

“I put in what I want for that week and it tells me what I am low on and what I need to boost by way of vegies, fruit and meat.

“Since starting to use it, I’ve been giving the children a lot more veggies and I’ve been boosting the meat content.”

At Kids Academy Hornsby, centre cook Daniel Try has taken on a national mentoring role for the Lifelong Learning Centres network of child care centres owned and operated by Affinity Education Group, providing sample recipes, advice and feedback to other cooks around Australia.
He also runs monthly 'Healthy Food' challenges to encourage other centre cooks to improve the nutritional quality of their menus - for example, by replacing high sugar yoghurts with natural or greek varieties, or introduce new ingredients including chia or wholemeal flour.  

"Previously I did all my planning for menus and recipes on a whiteboard here in the centre kitchen, where I also display all our information about children's allergies and dietary restrictions up on our centre kitchen wall," Daniel explains. 

"We now have our entire community of enrolled children loaded into our feedAustralia account including their individual dietary requirements, and I plan 6-week rotating menus, shopping lists and keep track of all nutritional intake via the system - it's been an absolute game-changer." 

The Summer 2019 Healthy Food menu created by Daniel Try using the feedAustralia portal included dishes such as Korean-style brown rice and vegetable stir-fry, Moroccan Chicken and rice salad, and frozen yoghurt and mango icypoles. 
"Our naked beef burrito bowls were probably the favourite on our Summer menu, because they incorporate hot and cold foods, and allowed children to adapt the quantity of different ingredients to their own taste," said Daniel. 

Both Daniel and Theresa have initiated kitchen gardens resulting in produce which not only features in their centre menus, but in children's learning opportunities as they water and care for plants. 
"Parents received centre-grown basil pesto in the past month, so they benefitted as well!" says Daniel, who also prepares take-home meals for busy parents. 

Milestones Early Learning Centre Manager Krista Lynch, says the program helps families feel comfortable in knowing their children are getting the nutrition they need.

“A balanced diet is so important for children to be able to maintain their high energy levels, and the 'Healthy Food' program we offer really does set us apart from many other local child care providers,” she said.

Photo credit: NSW Health Matters magazine, 2019 Summer edition