Building healthy lunchboxes and partnerships

20/Feb/2018     Allied HealthHealth

A pilot program for children from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds is teaching families about healthy eating.

Mater Refugee Health Nurse Katherine Roddom facilitated two workshops for kindergarten-aged children and their parents.

“The purpose of the workshops was to teach parents how to make a lunchbox healthy in an easy, fast and cost effective manner, and not to simply copy what is often put into the average Australian child's lunch box,”  Katherine said. 

 “The key points I try to share are that leftovers are fantastic, kids like small portions of different foods and that treats affect a child’s health and teeth, as well as their mood and energy levels.

“The traditional cuisine of those from a refugee background is often very healthy so I encourage that to be added to the lunchbox in the form of leftovers, plus some vegetables and fruit; and to avoid packaged foods that are high in sugar, salt and preservatives,” Katherine said.

During the workshop, children are engaged through storytelling and sorting different food into ‘sometimes’ and ‘always’ food groups.

“I then ask the children to sort foods into ‘grow’ which are calcium rich and protein foods, ‘go’ which are carbohydrates and ‘glow’ which are vitamin and mineral rich groups.”

Parents who attended the workshop said they left with a very clear indication of which foods are healthy and unhealthy.

“I can now clearly say what is for everyday and what is for sometimes,” commented one parent, with another parent adding: “It was helpful to get ideas for what to put in lunchboxes.”

The Refugee and Asylum Seeker Early Childhood Kindergarten Pilot is facilitated by MDA, the key refugee settlement service in Queensland.  Mater Refugee Health Service has a long standing partnership with MDA.  Mater delivers an innovative co-location model in 13 GP practices, where nurses deliver refugee health care with practice teams.

For more information about refugee health see

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