Nietta Lynch and Chloe Bowen


By Paul O'Rourke

Nietta Lynch’s obsession with health and nutrition began with her career as a chef.

The hospitality teacher at Jordan River Learning Federation Senior School’s goals are to educate students to appreciate where good food comes from through using the school’s training kitchen to supply students with one nutritious hot meal a day.

And Loaves and Fishes Tasmania is helping to keep the dream alive by supplying food weekly for Nietta and her hospitality students to produce a range of interesting and tasty lunch meals and breakfast foods.

Loaves and Fishes is also working with the school to provide two school-based traineeships at the nearby Glenorchy warehouse.

Nietta, (pictured with school-based apprentice Chloe Bowen) who worked as a chef for 15 years, feeds an average of 125 students a hot lunch five days a week, using a combination of school-grown and donated food.

Breakfast is served

She supplies breakfast to dozens more early-risers: ham and cheese toasties, milk, juice and fruit.

Nietta said she left the hospitality industry to “give back” as an educator and nutritionist. “I grew up not far from here at Claremont, so I know how hard it can be for students to see the range of opportunity that exists in foods and create nutritious offerings whilst managing a budget.

“This is my dream job.”

“It’s invigorating to be able to give back and provide practical learning opportunities.”

Paddock-to-plate

Jordan River Learning Federation Senior School has long had a paddock-to-plate food philosophy, growing vegetables and raising animals at its nearby school farm property in Brighton to provide food and educational activities linked to agriculture.

“Kids here love fruit, partly because they appreciate how it’s grown.

“Sometimes I serve apples with the leaf and stem attached to remind them where food comes from.’’

Nietta prepares food with the help of students taking hospitality as a senior elective but is gradually introducing younger students to the love of food and cooking.

Nietta is a natural-born educator and coach, having been a top grade Tasmanian AFL player and now assistant coach at Claremont.

She applies the same discipline and organisation she exhibits as a football coach. There’s no wasted time, effort or food as she plots the week’s menu. However, instead of a premiership flag, Nietta’s playing for the long-term health and wellbeing of students and their families.

“The food we get from Loaves and Fishes has really helped,” she said.

“It’s a balancing act in planning meals, not knowing exactly how many of the 250 students will want lunch on any given day.”