A mum’s initiative to promote healthy eating

Health kick: Brooke Flanagan is teaching kids like Ellie Nelson Stafford and Nicholas Lazzaro about the benefits of nutritious food. Picture: Simon Bennett
Health kick: Brooke Flanagan is teaching kids like Ellie Nelson Stafford and Nicholas Lazzaro about the benefits of nutritious food. Picture: Simon Bennett

When Brooke Flanagan’s daughter started school, she began looking into the canteen options available and was left dismayed.

As a mother who wanted her family to eat nutritional food and pass on healthy eating habits, even while at school, she realised there was a gap.

Things get heated: When Mrs Flanagan turned on the oven, it was the first time they'd been used in 10 years. Picture: Simon Bennett

Things get heated: When Mrs Flanagan turned on the oven, it was the first time they'd been used in 10 years. Picture: Simon Bennett

Earlier this year she opened up her own business Brooke's Canteen and currently services four schools, including her latest venture, Ashcroft Public School.

Her goal is to promote healthy food to children and get into as many canteens as she can within the Liverpool area.

“There’s an issue of obesity in the community, as well as over-eating and choosing the wrong foods. I’m trying to make as many healthy meals as possible at Ashcroft Public School. Coming from a low socio-economic area, it’s important the children have an opportunity to eat delicious but healthy food and not just take-away from the night before,” Mrs Flanagan said.

To manage the different schools, she rotates between them and has other staff to assist. Although the business has only been at Ashcroft Public School for two weeks, she said there’s already been some big changes.

Quick, healthy and easy: ham and homemade coleslaw. Picture: Simon Bennett

Quick, healthy and easy: ham and homemade coleslaw. Picture: Simon Bennett

“The canteen itself is about 40 years old and has had a huge makeover I’ve funded myself so children feel welcomed. I’ll never forget, on my very first day there, I turned the ovens on and they weren't working. I found out they hadn’t been turned on for 10 years.

“The feedback from the community has been great. The parents have been really excited and it’s pushed the children towards eating healthy because the parents are behind it too.”

And Ashcroft Public School embraced Brooke’s Canteen with two arms, wide open. 

Eat up: Light vanilla yogurt with strawberries. Picture: Simon Bennet

Eat up: Light vanilla yogurt with strawberries. Picture: Simon Bennet

“She is doing an outstanding job. The children are now purchasing healthy foods and taking risks in what they’re eating. She’s offering students healthy alternatives, which is important for our school because we care about nutritional eating,” Ashcroft Public School acting principal Poppy Loueizi said.

“The meals are made fresh in the morning. She has a really extensive whole range of foods and does specials daily for the kids. We’ve been getting great feedback. The kids are walking around and commenting. Some of them have said, ‘this is the yummiest food ever’.

“For the first time some of them have tried broccoli and salad. Our canteen lines have never been so long!”

The acting principal said they were planning on extending Brooke’s Canteen to the preschool in three weeks time.