Clonard College is putting student wellbeing first, by piloting a program that aims to improve student wellbeing and learning outcomes via healthy eating.
Clonard College is a 920-student, all girls Catholic secondary school in Herne Hill (near Geelong), Victoria.
In 2018, their students indicated an increase in anxiety levels, so the school decided to address this by devising a wellbeing program to address anxiety, depression, and social and emotional issues among Year 9 and 10 students.
The program is called ‘Fit2Thrive@Clonard’ and involves devoting some time each school day to developing new knowledge and skills in areas such as:
- resilience and perseverance
- physical fitness and wellbeing
- respectful relationships
- positive psychology and mindfulness.
As well as healthy eating!
Why is healthy eating a priority at Clonard College?
The leadership at Clonard College knew that diet and mental health are linked, so they wanted to promote healthy eating as a way of supporting students’ mental wellbeing.
They know that to ensure students are learning at their best, their wellbeing needs to be supported too.
“Everyone within the Clonard community believes providing a healthy environment is crucial to allowing students to thrive.
Part of this environment is the food we offer at the canteen.
When this healthy eating proposal was first considered, we looked at what we needed to offer the students in the way of nourishing and healthy foods rather than any impact it would have on the financial performance of the canteen. I’m glad to say there has been minimal impact on takings.”
Tom Harriot, Business Manager
Support to make healthy eating a priority
Clonard College now provides a greater variety of nutritious foods and drinks in the canteen for students and staff.
They used free services from the Healthy Eating Advisory Service to help learn about the school canteen policy, and get advice on how to update the canteen menu:
- Canteen staff and the assistant principal completed HEAS’s free online training to learn how to plan a healthy canteen menu in line with the Victorian School Canteens and Other Food Services Policy.
- Canteen staff used HEAS’ free online menu assessment tool, FoodChecker, to assess the menu, products, and recipes, and find healthier alternatives.
- The school has adopted a whole of school approach:
- ensuring the school leadership’s active involvement in developing the program
- communicating with and supporting all staff and students to participate in wellbeing activities each day
- engaging students and families in the program development and process by sharing updates with them (e.g. via school newsletters, on social media, and the principal’s blog), and asking them for feedback on the program.
Staff and students have embraced the healthier options now on offer at the canteen.
A new payment system allows the school to track the popularity of the healthier items, and parents can see what students are eating.
The new salads have been particularly popular, and they are looking forward to introducing some delicious homemade soups for the winter terms.
And the students are feeling the benefits too!
“I have noticed the change in my mood and in my life from doing ‘wellbeing’ this year.”
Clonard College student, feedback from Fit2Thrive program.