FEAST Builds Positive Palates in the Pilbara

Student dietitians Sarah Hayward and Vanessa Di Giorgio on placement with the Western Australian Centre for Rural Health in Karratha have collaborated with Tambrey Primary School and OzHarvest’s FEAST in the program’s first delivery in unique Pilbara region of northwest Western Australia.

The Pilbara Region 

The Pilbara experiences high rates of nutrition related diseases when compared to metropolitan regions. Addressing health and nutrition is challenging in the regions with limited access to healthcare, and poorer access to affordable fresh food been just some of the challenges.

Tambrey Primary School Principal, Shiona Hobart says, “With these challenges to health in mind the role the school community plays, especially in the regions is crucial in promoting sustainable and nutritious habits and teaching kids essential cooking skills”.

Seeing FEAST in Action 

The students throughout their time in Karratha saw firsthand the value and challenges faced in teaching on the topic of nutrition in schools.  The students reflected that for teachers it isn’t as easy as it seems with full curriculums and teachers generally feeling poorly equipped with knowledge and resources to address the topic. There is also a need to ensure that the content is culturally appropriate and addresses the large variations in education levels between children in a singular classroom.

Through the dietetic student’s involvement with Tambrey Primary School in the delivery of FEAST they learnt of the benefits of a curriculum-aligned program that inspired the school children to eat healthy, waste less and become change-makers in their community. The Dietitian students combined what they had learnt about the Pilbara, combatting nutrition in a remote school setting and feedback from teachers to provide valuable insights to OzHarvest to support future growth and improvement to meet the needs of rural and remote schools and the broader community.

The Impact of FEAST 

Curtin University Student Dietitian, Vanessa believes that addressing food supply issues and improving nutrition knowledge of children in the school environment is especially beneficial to remote communities. “We assisted Tambrey Primary School students with the FEAST cooking lessons for five weeks and were met with their excited faces and eagerness to participate in the recipe lessons and learn new cooking skills. They have shown improvements each week through constant learning, demonstration, and practice” says Vanessa.

Tambrey Primary School Year 5 teacher delivering FEAST, Zoe Thorpe says, “The FEAST lesson plans match all literacy levels and we have been able to create educational discussions to suit students with lower literacy levels.” Zoe stated that “in Karratha we have a rich Aboriginal culture and community, and it is important we emphasise with all the children the importance of looking after food and Country, therefore learning about food waste was relatable to our students.” “Being in a remote location we encounter barriers like access to fresh produce and certain ingredients at times. The flexibility of the FEAST program and being able move and swap lessons where needed was highly useful”.

WACRH Dietitian and Lecturer Natalie Cordon says that “through this valuable collaboration, we collectively learnt a great deal about the barriers and enablers of implementing FEAST more widely in the Pilbara, this collaboration will help guide future growth and evolution of the program for other rural and remote locations across Australia.”

She also said that “Many nutrition and wellbeing programs available and accessible in metropolitan regions are not delivered in regional WA due to availability of appropriate facilitators. The number of Dietitians and nutritionists is also much lower in rural and remote locations like the Pilbara. With these factors in mind, programs which build the capacity of communities and especially educators in schools are of great value, this is exactly what this joint endeavour aimed to do”.

There is great excitement to see FEAST grow further in the Pilbara and have an impact in WA’s rural and remote regions.

FEAST is FREE to all schools across Australia, Register Your School | FEAST OzHarvest

Written by Vanessa Di Giorgio (Master of Dietetics Student – Curtin University)

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