Fairfield Refugee Nutrition Project (2015 – 2017)

Fairfield Refugee Nutrition Project

The Fairfield Refugee Nutrition Project is a Communities for Children Facilitating Partner Initiative. Fairfield Communities for Children is funded by the Australian Government and facilitated by The Smith Family.The Fairfield Refugee Nutrition Project (FRNP) consists of three main projects:

1. Nutrition Education Program

The Fairfield Refugee Nutrition project has a strong focus on community education. The primary strategy is the delivery of an 8 week nutrition education program for people of refugee background who have children aged 0-12 years.

The Nutrition Education Program provides culturally specific nutrition education combined with healthy cooking sessions. The sessions are delivered for two hours per week by a dietitian with the assistance of a Bilingual Community Educator (BCE) to provide language support, cultural contextualisation and community engagement.

Topics that the participants can chose from include: Healthy Eating; Healthy Lunch Box; Bad Food and Better Alternatives; Food for Baby and Toddler; Vitamin D, Bone Health and Energy; The Facts on Fats; Maintaining a healthy weight; Recipe Modification; Label Reading; Sodium and Heart Health; Food Safety and Storage; Healthy Teeth and Gums. All sessions delivered consistent evidence based information regarding nutrition and food.

Research has identified newly arrived refugees to be very vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies and food insecurity. The health status of refugees upon arrival to Australia is often poor due to prolonged periods with sub-optimal nutrition pre-arrival. Studies and anecdotal evidence has shown upon arrival to Australia refugees experience changes in: food supply, patterns of food purchase, responsibility for food preparation, and in social networks. The latter impact a refugee’s food habits and nutritional status. Refugee’s limited nutritional knowledge around Australian foods, media influences, cultural perceptions of western foods, economic constraints and desire to quickly assimilate by adopting a western diet can lead to adopting a high fat and low micronutrient quality diet. This increases their risk of developing a chronic disease.

This eight-week early-intervention program aims to improve the nutritional status and food security of refugees. PHOR will engage a dietitian and trained Bilingual Community Educators (BCEs) to facilitate the program. The BCE model offers many attributes including community engagement and cultural contextualisation. The program directly links to current research on refugee nutrition and food insecurity; its content was determined by the NSW Refugee Health Service’s needs assessments. The program empowers refugees’ by improving their knowledge regarding healthy eating.

2. Kids in the Kitchen

Kids in the Kitchen (KitK) is a free school holiday program for children aged 6 – 12 years from a refugee background. It provides the opportunity for children to learn new skills, cook in a team, meet others with similar experiences, share a healthy meal and enjoy structured physical activity.
KitK is a culturally appropriate structured program, delivered by a dietitian and Bilingual Community Educators (BCEs). PHOR currently partners with Fairfield High School and SPARK to deliver this program.

3. Orientation to Nutrition Session

Orientation to Nutrition is a one off, one hour, session delivered to newly arrived refugees as part of the orientation program delivered by Settlement Services International. This session provides participants with on arrival nutrition information required to adopt a healthy diet and prevent the initiation of unhealthy eating habits in Australia.