We are delighted to see our funding and resources are helping Delwyn MacKenzie and the St Peter's College Palmerston North with their "Garden to Plate" Program.
Through our 'Grants for Good ' funding, they have been able to purchase some gardening equipment, a shed, fruit trees, catering equipment, cutlery, crockery, hot and cold serving cabinets, mixers, and food processors. To date, it has enabled them to establish and plant a community orchard with 20 developing fruit trees, to teach our students how to grow vegetables from seeds to seedling and into full plants that are then harvested and used in the foods room.
1. Tell us a bit more about yourself (organisation)?
My name is Delwyn MacKenzie. I am a Master’s degree qualified, registered clinical nutritionist as well as a registered teacher of science, biology, health, food and nutrition. I am 3 papers off completing an Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine. I also hold a certificate in Mental Health Nutrition. I am the HOD of Food, Nutrition and Hospitality at St Peter’s College in Palmerston North.
My focus is to raise awareness around the role food plays in health (good or bad). It is my goal and that of the wider school to build a nourishing, nurturing food environment, where what is taught in the classroom is mirrored in the wider school community. We want to be able to feed our students and staff delicious, nutritious meals on a daily basis. Unfortunately, we are not eligible for any government funding for the healthy lunches in schools program hence the reason we sought funding to enable us to implement a program ourselves.
2. What are you doing? Or What is the primary focus of your research?
We currently have a small community garden and orchard onsite at school where we grow produce to be used in the foods room or to give away. But we wanted to expand this so we can offer fresh produce to a much wider audience, with excess produce being donated to Just Zilch or church food banks and the wider needing community.
We are already providing healthy lunches to staff and some students daily but we want to grow this program so all our students have access to healthy nutritious meals each day.
This Garden to Table approach allows our students to learn not only how to grow their own food, but also how to prepare and serve it wholesomely and sustainably. I would like to use our school as the basis for a PhD research project looking at how food influences mood, learning and behaviour by following a cohort of students through their schooling years and tracking their progress. I would like to run community cooking classes to teach people how to cook healthy food for themselves and their families.
We also wish to offer students skills based learning experiences within Science and Horticulture at higher achievement levels.
3. What inspired you to do what you’re doing?
I am a passionate wellness advocate and nutrition educator. I believe that as a school we have the unique opportunity and the ideal platform to reshape lives by providing our students with the information and skills necessary to make wise food choices which impact on all aspects of their wellbeing (Hauora). This project arose out of a need to provide healthy lunches to our students, many of whom come to school without food and to teach them how to feed themselves and their families now and into the future.
4. Why did you choose to focus on this topic?
Because there is a huge need to teach people how to grow their own food, to get back to the basics of healthy eating and to give them the knowledge to prepare healthy food and eat well.
5. What made you decide to apply for an HealthCarePlus Grant for Good? (where did you hear about it)
The aims of the Health Care Plus Grant for Good aligned with what we are trying to achieve. We have been looking at a number of grants over the years but did not feel many of these aligned with our goals. Our business manager is regularly seeking grants across a wide range of activities in our school. He saw this and asked me if I thought it would be appropriate for us.
6. How was your experience in Appling for the grant?
The process was mostly ok but the timeframe for us was a bit tight as the closing date was in the holidays. I had to liaise closely with a number of people to get the information in which was challenging given that they were on holiday. Otherwise it was fine.
7. How has funding from HealthCarePlus helped? (to advance your research)?
With the Grant money we have been able to purchase some gardening equipment, a shed, fruit trees, catering equipment, cutlery, crockery, hot and cold serving cabinets, mixers, and food processors. To date, this Grant has enabled us to establish and plant a community orchard with 20 developing fruit trees, to teach our students how to grow vegetables from seeds to seedling and into full plants that are then harvested and used in the foods room.
In the foods area, it has allowed us to buy the food preparation equipment so we can expand the amount of food we are preparing daily. We can now chill, heat and hold food at safe temperatures prior to food service. We can serve many more people as we have the crockery and cutlery for this. We have already had soup and scone days, a “Pop- Up Bakery” where food was offered to the whole school, and my senior students have been able to make restaurant quality meals using the fresh garden produce utilising the reliable commercial equipment we now have.
8. What does this grant mean to you?
It means the world to us. It means we can offer educational experiences and health changing programs that our students would otherwise not be able to participate in. Without this grant the choices of what we could prepare and offer would be much more limited. It has allowed us to dream of the future prospects of where our vision could go. It has also planted seeds in our students minds of where they could go in terms of their future achievements in food, nutrition, and horticulture.
9. What would you say to others considering but hesitant in applying for a grant?
Go for it. Don’t be scared of the paper work. Ask questions. The people running the HealthCarePlus Grant for Good process are supportive and interested in what you are doing.
10. What advice would you give to future Grants for Good applicants?
Get organised. Ask questions, have a budget, break down your costings and know your future goals and the outcomes you wish to achieve.
11. What are you hoping to achieve?
In the future we wish to continue to expand our program so we can provide nutritious breakfasts and lunches daily to all our students and staff. We want to foster sustainable practices across the school through food and horticulture. As part of this we want to offer community cooking classes and even perhaps look at establishing a catering academy based at our school. We wish to be able to offer Horticulture as an NCEA subject in time.
12. In what way will your project/course help make a positive impact on others?
We want to:
- reduce the intake of calorie dense but nutrient poor food being consumed on the school premises.
- educate students and their whanau that food should nourish the body rather than just fill them up.
- address socio economic barriers and accessibility to nutritious food
- improve the physical and mental wellbeing of our students by implementing a program that teaches students how to look after themselves and others
- we want to celebrate achievable success through healthy eating / food choices and sustainable growing practices.
The positive impacts that we want to see are:
- more knowledgeable students who are able to make wise food choices.
- more engaged, confident and socially alert students who are happy in their learning and who recognise the value of a nutritious diet on all dimensions of Hauora but especially on brain health.
Underpinning this, we hope to see that the knowledge our students gain during their high school years will be passed onto future generations.
If you are interested and want to know more this year's Grants for Good and how to apply for one then click here.