FRESH, healthy school lunches have just been the beginning for a sustainable lifestyle movement in Hepburn. Social enterprise SHIFT is now recruiting young growers.
In paid work experience, recruits will work alongside seasoned farming mentors from the region to grow, sell and feed seasonal produce back into programs such as healthy lunches under the SHIFT model, or Sustainable Healthy Integrated Food Towns.
This follows a year-long trial for an alternative school lunch program in Daylesford Primary School.
Plans are also well-underway to introduce a family cooking school early next year.
Health Future Australia chief executive Shelley Bowen said these were important steps in reinforcing a sustainable, well-being circular economy within the shire and based on residents' needs, like learning how to best prepare fresh, seasonal food.
Projects are part of the SHIFT pilot following extensive workshopping within the shire on long-term, grassroots initiatives to curb obesity. Hepburn Shire became the pilot region under the Central Highlands Regional Partnerships' Obesity Lab think tank sessions.
Dr Bowen said fundamental to the model was keeping programs sustainable in funding, rather than based on short-term government grants.
She said the chance to now bring in young growers, aged 16 to 25, would offer hands-on education and awareness and jobs for those who were unsure about career paths, looking for school holiday work or on a gap year.
At the same time, the program would help fuel more school lunches.
"These important projects lead us toward the big SHIFT vision to build a multi-system facility providing farm gate sales, aquaponics producing fish, vegetables and herbs; bio-gas for energy; and the healthy lunch kitchen initially servicing schools and the school community within the shire," Dr Bowen said.
"This means exciting new jobs and learning opportunities which span agricultural science, farming, social enterprise, and hospitality for young people in our shire.
"This is all a prototype in Hepburn but has huge relevance to go elsewhere in Ballarat or Bacchus Marsh, for example, in the Moorabool Shire. We've done all the hard yards in Hepburn."
IN OTHER NEWS
Healthy Futures Australia has launched a major fundraising drive to expand projects in Hepburn which also build on its support team and kitchen to create a fully sustainable social enterprise.
The not-for-profit health promotion charity is seeking $245,000 to step up operations next year.
Healthy Lunch Kitchen demand has doubled since march, delivering 100 lunches each weel on Wednesdays and Thursdays to Daylesford Primary School.
Daylesford primary acting principal Karen McHugh said quality food was an important part of social and emotional well-being for children. Ms McHugh said these lunches were an affordable way to fuel that.
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