Dairy deal keeps pupils off lollies

CUT SUGAR: Rhode St School's still working with dairies to stop kids turning up to school with lollies and sugary ...
MARK TAYLOR

CUT SUGAR: Rhode St School's still working with dairies to stop kids turning up to school with lollies and sugary drinks. Pictured are student council members Alexandria Blair and Te Arahau Reihana in front of Princial Shane Ngatai and K Road Dairy and Flowers owner Jagdish Patel.

Lolly wrappers and soft drink bottles are a rare find at a Hamilton school after an agreement with several local dairies.

The student council at Rhode Street School approached nearby sweet and sugary drink sellers six months ago to ask them not to sell to pupils in uniform.

A professor of public health said the school showed "extraordinary leadership".

At the start two dairies signed up and one agreed to the morning half of the deal.

While the school hasn't signed more up yet, principal Shane Ngatai has noticed changes.

Yesterday he did a bag and pocket pupils check of about 60 senior students.

"No lollies, no fizzy."

There was just one concerned student with throat lozenges, compared with $10 of lollies on a single child in a similar check in June.

The school's rubbish was also telling tales.

"We're not finding the wrappers. And we're not finding them outside the school either, like we would have six months ago," Ngatai said.

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"We're not holding a microscope on what everyone does. We're actually . . . letting the kids take ownership of what they put into their bodies and understanding what it does to them."

Rhode St School also has programmes teaching kids to grow, prepare and cook nutritious food.

AUT professor of public health Grant Schofield has followed some of those initiatives and said Ngatai's focus on solving problems showed "extraordinary leadership".

The dairy deal was a great, kid-centred idea, Schofield said. "I think the kids will be going home now saying, 'You know that stuff's rubbish, don't you?' "

That would make the message about nutrient-free "fake food" more powerful, Schofield said.

The public health system had been seeing its effects for years, including dental decay and weight issues. And he plans to work with the student council to keep knocking on the doors of local dairies in the hope of expanding their agreement.

Currently Irvine Street Dairy and K Road Dairy and Flowers have signed up, and the Blackburn Street Superette has agreed for mornings.

libby.wilson@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

 - Waikato Times

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