Bantry school scoops first prize in Cork Food Policy Awards

March 6th, 2019 7:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

Pupils of Our Lady of Mercy NS, Bantry, and some of their teachers, pictured after winning top prize in the Cork Food Policy Awards 2019 recently. (Photo: Adrian Cronin)

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Our Lady of Mercy NS, Bantry, has been a very active health-promoting school for the last 14 years and was rewarded with top prize for its efforts. 

OUR Lady of Mercy NS, Bantry, has been a very active health-promoting school for the last 14 years and was rewarded with top prize for its efforts. 

Miss Claire Hourihan, the health-promoting teacher in the school, submitted an application to the Cork Food Policy Awards 2019 to illustrate the schools’ commitment to CFPC’s five core values: health and wellbeing for all; a thriving local economy; resilient, food-friendly communities; lifelong learning & skills; a reduced environmental footprint At the school, healthy food choices and active lifestyles are promoted daily. Children throughout the day engage in active breaks. 

Children in all classes dance to Go Noodle, participate in walking challenges around the school or Canty Park and are currently undertaking a skipping challenge. Our Lady of Mercy promotes inclusion of all children. Those from the special classes integrate with pupils from mainstream classes. 

There are many programmes taught in the school to promote mental and emotional health and wellbeing. These include the Stay Safe-RSE programme, Weaving Wellbeing and Zippy’s Friends. Birthdays and achievements are celebrated at assembly and one of the school anthem songs, ‘As One,’ promotes friendship and caring for each other.Local shops and businesses are always promoted in the school. Copybooks, school books and art material are purchased locally and staff events are held in local venues.

Pupils from first to sixth have many opportunities to engage with food preparation and cooking. Recently, fourth and fifth classes with teacher Mrs White made scones for Grandparent’s Day. 

Third class with teacher Miss Moynihan cooked a selection of “Love you with all my heart” cookies. Miss Rice and her class baked mouth-watering brownies as a mid-term treat. Special class pupils prepare healthy lunches on a daily basis and are constantly learning key daily living skills such as hygiene, chopping and peeling, mixing, boiling, grilling and presenting food.

Our Lady of Mercy has its 5th Green Flag award as part of the Green School Committee. So far, the flags that they have received include: Litter and Waste, Energy, Water, Travel, Biodiversity. It was one of the first schools in West Cork to receive Health Promotion status. Children in the school are very committed to creating a reduced environmental footprint. Pupils from third class monitor and collect the rubbish, recycling and compost bins daily.  Lights and interactive whiteboards are only turned on when necessary. Weeding and planting projects are undertaken by many classes. 

The school is looking into getting a wormery to enhance its composting.It is no wonder now that this vibrant school has been selected as the winner of the primary school’s Cork Food Policy award. Miss Hourihan and deputy principal, Miss Keane, attended the awards ceremony in St. Peter’s in North Main St. Cork on February 12th. Miss Hourihan accepted the award on behalf of the school from Dr Colin Sage, chair of the Cork Food Policy, and from the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn. Cork Food Policy supports new partnerships in Cork between statutory, community and voluntary groups, educational institutions and businesses to promote knowledge skills and experience around food.


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