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Kids in the kitchen

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Children and parents in Melbourne's south-east are now better equipped for a healthy lifestyle thanks to the Kids Community Kitchen program run by Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service.

The number of overweight children in Australia has doubled in recent years, with a quarter of children considered overweight or obese. Causes of obesity in children include unhealthy food choices, lack of physical activity and family eating habits.

Program Manager Iain Ritchie said early intervention was the key to preventing a further increase in childhood obesity rates.

"The aim is to increase the kids' consumption and knowledge of healthy foods and improve their cooking skills," he says. "Volunteers and parents work together to show the kids to prepare a simple meal and a desert."

Kids setting an example

Fresh food is sourced weekly from food charity Second Bite at no cost and a menu is prepared from the available foods.

"A secondary outcome of the program is that parents are becoming more involved in the program and keen to eat what the kids are eating and taking copies of recipes provided," Mr Ritchie says.

Mr Ritchie says the program started after seeing a number of children at the family holiday program at Good Shepherd refusing to eat vegetables, salads and freshly made food items as they were unfamiliar with the ingredients. Now, a year later, these same children are influencing their parents by taking home simple recipes and talking enthusiastically about the food they make.

Keeping the rule of healthy eating with eating "naughty foods" in moderation some of the favorite recipes have been beef tacos, fruit salad and yoghurt, zucchini slice, scones, chicken and noodle stir fry, muffins, cupcakes, cheese and spinach triangles, fruit crumbles and pizzas.