Community Foodies graduate in Port Augusta

Article image - Community Foodies graduate in Port Augusta (l–r) Cheryl West, Michelle Coulthard, Camilla Leaver and Polly Thompson busy in the kitchen.

They may not be in the MasterChef Australia top 10, but the skills of Port Augusta’s newest graduate ‘foodies’ will change the way local Indigenous residents buy food and prepare meals.

Community Foodies are being trained across South Australia to work in schools, kindergartens, community centres, shopping centres and anywhere they can help improve the health of their local communities.

They provide activities and hands on cooking classes for children and parents, assistance with community gardens, and they work with school canteens and breakfast clubs.

Located at the northern end of the Spencer Gulf in South Australia, the City of Port Augusta covers 1,150 square kilometres and has a population of 14,600 people.

In June, 11 staff from the City’s education sector graduated as Community Foodies, including Aboriginal Community Education Officers (ACEOs), Aboriginal Education Teachers (AETs) and Aboriginal Literacy staff from the local TAFE.

The training has provided participants with the skills to run nutrition education activities on topics like budget cooking, reading labels and increasing fruit and vegetable intake. The Community Foodies model is based around a long term partnership between participants and health workers.

In Port Augusta, it is being delivered through a partnership between Port Augusta Hospital, schools and Port Augusta City Council’s OPAL program, which aims to make Port Augusta a place where it is easy to be active and eat well.

OPAL’s involvement provides the capacity to train new workers and provide ongoing support to the Foodies after training.

Monthly catch ups and coaching are organised to ensure staff have the resources needed to put their training in to practice.

OPAL Coordinator Camilla Leaver said the follow up is something Council sees as very positive.

“It is an opportunity to build ongoing relationships, particularly with inspirational members of our Aboriginal community, but the long term investment of time is often hard for one agency to commit to alone,” she said.

“The partnership of Local Government, Health, Education and a range of other agencies means that we can pool resources and expand a great program like this in our community.
“Many of the workers are Aboriginal Community Education workers, who have a key role in connecting with parents.

“We are very excited about the potential to work together offering healthy cooking as a means of engaging with parents, while also offering healthy ideas for busy families.”

Health Promotion Officer with the Port Augusta Hospital, Carmel Daw, said educating parents is vital in improving the health of families.

“We all know that parents provide the most important education for children in our community, and we need to work together to strengthen our connections with local workers who support parents and carers,” Carmel Daw said.

“We find the messages are more effective if they are delivered by someone who the families know and trust.”

Camilla Leaver said the program has been really well received by the community, with strong interest in the next Community Foodies training.

“This program works so well because we embed skills within the community, so that participants come away with the confidence to share their knowledge in the workplace, and with family and friends,” she said.

“We’ve already had so much interest that we’re planning another round of training for later in the year.”

For further information contact Camilla Leaver on 0407 262 329.