A life-changing food growing and nutrition program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families has extended its reach into the Northern Territory.
“By making vegetables, fruit and healthy eating part of everyday life, the EON Foundation’s Thriving Communities Program is playing a significant role in closing the health gap for hundreds of families,” said Indigenous Health minister Ken Wyatt.
“Children begin by tending their own school gardens and tasting the harvest, then they are encouraged to take seeds and grow their own vegetables at home. The value of traditional bush tucker is also emphasised.
“The beauty of this program is how it captivates and empowers young people, who will in turn influence their own children.”
Following an invitation and funding from the traditional owners and the Anindilyakwa Land Council on Groote Eylandt, the program is now establishing gardens in the Angurugu, Umbakumba and Milyakburra communities.
Minister Wyatt said EON had collaborated with 24 WA communities since it began in 2005, with a recent survey of more than 300 participating children and adults bearing out its founding vision.
“More than 90 per cent of respondents said EON was their main source of health and nutrition education, liked learning how to cook nutritious food and believed in the importance of eating vegetables and fruit,” the Minister said.
“Over half said they talked to their families about the value of healthy food, while almost all teachers noted improvements in children’s health and school attendance.
“Introducing children and parents to foods that are accessible, affordable, convenient and delicious can create real and lasting change for the better.
“This program provides a strong nutritional foundation that helps guard against chronic diseases including diabetes and kidney failure.”
EON will also extend its network this year to include three centres in WA’s Gascoyne region: Yalgoo, Meekatharra and Mount Magnet.
Information on EON Foundation and the survey is available at www.eon.org.au
The EON Foundation’s Thriving Communities Program has four parts:
EON Edible Garden – A large vegetable, bush food and fruit garden is established at community schools, including supporting infrastructure such as reticulation, fencing and a shade house. EON works with Elders to grow bush food in the gardens, and to share the culture and history of bush plants with the children.
EON Healthy Eating – Is a comprehensive nutrition and cooking program for children and adults that increases knowledge about the importance of a healthy diet. The program becomes part of the weekly school timetable and EON project managers deliver fortnightly classes in nutrition, gardening, cooking and health. Adults participate in regular workshops.
EON Healthy Homes – Provides knowledge, equipment and tools to adults to maintain healthier home environments using small group workshops. This program is an extension of what is taught in Edible Garden and Healthy Eating workshops. School children are taught hygiene as part of their fortnightly classes.
EON Training and Education – Horticultural training is provided to community members to ensure sustainability and job creation. Whenever possible, EON employs and trains local community members (EON aims to employ at least one program assistant from each community) and works with the local job networks to ensure the EON Program creates jobs.