Wrapping up three impactful years

Friday, April 5, 2024

After three incredibly impactful years, the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative is wrapping up in 2024 

Since June 2021, the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation has proudly worked with local communities to deliver the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative on behalf of the Victorian government. The initiative has helped young Victorians access and enjoy the nourishing foods and drinks they deserve in the places they learn and play, engaging over 52,000 young people in over 450 youth settings. 

The Healthy Kids Advisors initiative is funded until June 2024. As the program reaches its conclusion, our Advisors are hard at work passing on their valuable skills and knowledge to local community leaders, who have always actively supported the wellbeing of their young people and who will continue to carry the torch of this important movement forward.  

As we reflect on the last three years, we’re pausing to raise a glass (of water!) to celebrate the collective effort and impact Healthy Kids Advisors has made with local communities. 

An inclusive and far-reaching initiative 

Healthy Kids Advisors is a flagship initiative of Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures – the Victorian Government’s five-year action plan to help children and young people to be healthy, active and well.  

The initiative has been delivered by a dedicated team of locally based Healthy Kids Advisors, working closely with the existing health promotion workforces within 13 targeted local government areas.

These local government areas comprise 15% of the Victorian population, 14% of Victoria’s schools, and closely align with VicHealth’s existing Local Government Partnerships. The work of the Healthy Kids Advisors has been informed by the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation’s overarching philosophy of delivering positive, hands-on, and pleasurable food education to help young people develop not just practical kitchen and garden skills, but a positive, confident relationship with food for life.   

The Healthy Kids Advisors have helped bring together young people, families and community members to come up with practical solutions to increase healthy and delicious food and drink options in schools, outside school hours care (OSHC), sports clubs and community or council-run facilities. In practice, this has meant subbing in freshly made popcorn to replace deep-fried chips or pre-packaged snacks, or teaching kids how to make nutrient-packed smoothies in their after-school care. 

It hasn't just been youth settings that benefit. Through ongoing community engagement, the Healthy Kids Advisors have proudly extended their impact into the broader food environments of community health services and organisations, including disability and employment support, migrant resource centres, neighbourhood houses, community gardens, food networks, kindergartens and libraries. 

The Healthy Kids Advisors impact 

In partnership with community health and local partners, the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative: 

  • Engaged 62,000+ children and young people 
  • Engaged 450+ youth settings, including: 
    • 187 schools 
    • 59 sports clubs 
    • 86 OSHC 
    • 24 leisure centres 
    • 33 community/council-owned facilities 
  • Demonstrated that LGAs with support from Healthy Kids Advisors have been up to five times more effective in implementing healthier food and drink environments for children and young people than areas without our support, according to an independent evaluation. 
  • Actively supported 473 schools and settings across the 13 priority local government areas in their healthy eating journey, with 389 of these schools and settings currently registered to Vic Kids Eat Well. 
  • Helped attain 1937 ‘small bites’ across the 389 registered schools and settings, which represents 50% of the small bites attained across Victoria. 59% of ‘new small bites’ have been achieved in local government areas with Healthy Kids Advisors support. 

Anna Mahony from Gippsland Lakes Complete Health (East Gippsland Shire) is a valued partner of Healthy Kids Advisors. “I cannot applaud the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation enough, and the Healthy Kids Advisor initiative is one of the best programs I have ever had the pleasure of working alongside,” she says. 

Cara Smith, a partner from Healthy Loddon Campaspe (City of Greater Bendigo), says the initiative helped join the dots between existing organisations. “Our Healthy Kids Advisor developed stronger partnerships between local stakeholders,” she says. “I think it's a great initiative and I have received positive feedback from many stakeholders about the benefits of the work.” 



The Vic Kids Eat Well journey continues

Vic Kids Eat Well will continue to support community organisations across Victoria to boost healthy food and drink options for children and young people. Cancer Council Victoria has an agreement with the Victorian Government to be the central coordinating organisation for Vic Kids Eat Well for at least the next three years, in partnership with Nutrition Australia.

Support will be available to help Vic Kids Eat Well member organisations to build on the momentum they have achieved in partnership with Healthy Kids Advisors. For more information please visit the Vic Kids Eat Well website.

Our key relationships 

This work has been a collective and collaborative effort, and we have been continuously inspired by all the passionate local leaders and enthusiasm we’ve experienced in each community.  

In particular, we would like to thank: 

  • Our community partnerships with settings, schools, local Councils, community health partners and key stakeholders who are at the heart of the work we do. 
  • Cancer Council Victoria and Nutrition Australia as key partners in implementing Vic Kids Eat Well. The shared planning, resource development and robust community of practice have been a core component of Healthy Kids Advisors. 
  • The Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) who have partnered with us to ensure that the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative is culturally informed and responsive to the voices and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 
  • Associate Professor Deana Leahy in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, who continues to inform our youth participation practices and create opportunities for collaboration. 
  • VicHealth and their Victorian Local Government Partnerships team. Healthy Kids Advisors regularly engage with their ‘building better food systems’ community of practice.  
  • The Deakin University GLOBE Team who supported us in the early months of Healthy Kids Advisors and helped us get started despite the delays and setbacks caused by Covid. 

We’ve seen firsthand how passionate the local leaders and organisations we’ve worked alongside are – and always have been – when it comes to realising healthy outcomes for young people. As we share the collective knowledge, tools and resources we’ve learned with those on the ground, we’re excited to see these 13 inspiring communities continue to build the momentum to help young people form healthy, positive food habits for life.  

With three years of demonstrated success in community led projects the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation has never been better placed to take on another partnership of this scale. We are excited to build on the momentum of Healthy Kids Advisors through growing our community-based projects. We welcome conversations and opportunities to explore new collaborations across Australia. 

Want more information?

Visit the Healthy Kids Advisors news page or contact us at hka@kitchengardenfoundation.org.au

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*Cover photo taken by Paul Benjamin

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