SMJFL promoting healthy choices with Monash University

The South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) is doing its bit to ensure kids stay healthy on and off the field.

Under SMJFL dietitian Sarina Lococo, four Monash University students currently completing their Masters of Dietetics are working with a handful of SMJFL clubs to implement healthier food and drink choices in their canteens.

The students will prepare a range of resources for the clubs, including healthy eating policies, educating clubs on how to deliver healthy choices in canteens and sourcing healthy food and drink alternatives to the usual pies, soft drinks and lollies.

Lococo, who has come on board with the SMJFL this year, said it was important for kids to learn the value of healthy eating from an early age, particularly to complement an active lifestyle.

“It’s great that we’re able to work with Monash University on a project like this and give these students the opportunity to apply some of the learnings that they’ve had in their studies so far,” Lococo said.

“Being able to provide healthy alternatives in a local football club canteen is a great way of exposing children and teenagers to the importance of eating a balanced diet and not having too many foods high in fat or sugar.”

Lococo has been involved at club level in the AFL, working at Essendon as the club’s Performance Nutritionist from 2012 to 2016. She now works for the Australian Institute of Sport and the Northern Blues in the VFL, along with her consulting work for the SMJFL.

SMJFL CEO Sarah Loh said she was keen to see what outcomes the program would deliver.

“It’s exciting for us. We want to ensure that our affiliate clubs and players know the importance of eating healthy and for clubs to know there are healthy alternatives available out there in terms of the products that canteens sell,” she said.

“We’ve had great support from VicHealth, who in 2018 awarded us a grant for not having any junk food sponsors. This program is the next step in providing a healthy environment for our kids.

“We’re excited to be working with our Major Sponsor Monash University in this space and help these students gain some real-world experience.”

The four students (pictured above – standing: Jordan Burke, Sam Pastellas, seated: Ellen Anderson, Sarina Lococo, Laura Goodridge), will spend seven weeks working on various projects which will count towards their Masters of Dietetics.