ACT Primary schools FEAST on the future of cooking

A new generation of home cooks ARE skilling up at primary schools across the ACT, honing their kitchen techniques to create delicious, healthy meals from food that might otherwise be wasted. OzHarvest’s curriculum-aligned education program FEAST (Food Education and Sustainability Training), is now being rolled out in primary schools across the ACT.

OzHarvest ACT State Manager, Belinda Barnier, said FEAST was developed after identifying an opportunity in the curriculum for a sustainability program that addressed food waste and healthy eating. “I was lucky to see FEAST in action, it’s designed to be fun, engaging and filled with good food! It’s fantastic to see schools in Canberra registering for the program, which is already in 400 schools across Australia. Teachers like the real-world problem solving and kids absolutely love the hands-on cooking and creativity involved!”

“Nine ACT schools have already started their FEAST programs and received the resources free of charge. We hope many more ACT primary schools will take advantage of this funding offer and come on board!,” said Belinda.
At St Joseph’s Primary School in O’Connor, teacher and Sustainability Co-ordinator Ryan McGee plans to run FEAST annually following the enthusiastic response from the Year 5 and 6 students who took part in the program in Term 2 this year.

“The students loved the experience,” said Mrs McGee. “We did the lessons on Fridays, and they would hound me all week about what we were cooking next. They were excited about bananas going off because they knew it was an opportunity to create something delicious. And were thrilled and proud with the completion of their recipes and expressed a profound sense of ownership and completion.”

Mrs McGee was impressed that so many children became salad enthusiasts. “The healthiest meals were my most requested recipe printouts,” she said. “How rewarding to see students ask for extra capsicum or herbs!”

Over time the children’s behaviour at home shifted from simply identifying food waste to working out how to use what they had. They came up with ideas such as making a tart with lemons from their garden and cooking pikelets using brown bananas.

“I have taught for 15 years and this was the biggest parent response I have ever witnessed,” said Mrs McGee. “The parents were thrilled with their children’s ability to identify healthy habits, eliminate food waste in the home, and demonstrate new cooking skills. I have never received such positive feedback!”

The FEAST finale is the creation of the ‘School Cookbook’. Produced and written by the students, it showcases their recipes and all they have learned. Some schools host a cookbook launch so the children can share their new knowledge.
“Food waste was a big issue on my radar but it wasn’t until the FEAST program that I really understood how problematic it is,” said Mrs McGee. “For students the key takeaway was that food waste is a huge problem, and we have the power to combat it.”

The rollout of FEAST in the ACT is supported by a private philanthropic foundation and the John James Foundation, which provide funding assistance to primary schools to run the program. Schools only need to buy the groceries and FEAST will provide the rest: a FEAST curriculum package with access to an online teacher and student portal including toolkits, recipes and a suite of resources, a kitchen kit and electric fry pans, and ongoing support from the FEAST team. OzHarvest offers teachers a professional program delivery training course endorsed by the ACT Government, Teacher Quality Institute (TQI).

ACT schools should register now to ensure the FEAST program can be delivered at a time to suit their teaching program.
Visit ozharvest.org/feast