Rachel’s dedication to boosting child nutrition through the Picnic Project

Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) Health Promotion Dietitian Rachel Gerathy has spent nearly ten years promoting healthier lifestyles and good nutrition. Rachel’s passion for nutrition came from her active upbringing and appreciation for Aussie swimmer Kieren Perkins, whose mother, a nutritionist, inspired Rachel’s career choice.

For the past four years, Rachel has led the PICNIC Project, a community-driven initiative supporting parents with child feeding and nutrition.

The PICNIC Project is designed to guide parents and carers through the often challenging journey of feeding infants and young children. It helps parents understand the nature of ‘learning to eat’ and provides tools to support positive feeding practices. This approach helps families avoid food battles, manage fussiness, and positively influence lifelong eating patterns. The Project specifically targets priority population families.

“We have partnered with experienced Supported Playgroup facilitators to design a program, tailored to their needs, that will enable them to share best practices for feeding children with the parents at their playgroups,” Rachel said.

Currently, the PICNIC team is user-testing self-directed learning modules, co-designed with facilitators. These modules will be piloted next month with playgroup leaders.

Rachel received a grant from NSW Regional Health Partners to enhance consumer and community involvement in the PICNIC Project.

“The grant will allow us to hear from more consumers which will help us address the need for priority populations to access valuable child feeding information, and provide consumer voice vital for lived experience learnings,” Rachel said.

Since 2018, more than 700 parents from the Mid North Coast have participated in PICNIC, shaping it into a highly effective peer-to-peer feeding program. The initiative is now successfully running on the Central Coast of NSW and will soon expand to other regions.

For more information about the PICNIC Project, visit [picnicproject.com.au]