SALT Ash Public School students will swap fast food for fruit and vegetables as part of an innovative program that aims to reduce the risk of gastro-intestinal cancers.

Teacher Craig Milne said 48 students from year four and his combined year five and six class would participate from September 9 in the Gutsy Challenge, which encourages children to seek sponsorship to eat two fruit and four vegetables every day for one week.

The school aims to raise $1000 to help the GI Cancer Institute find a cure for gastro-intestinal cancers.

‘‘We studied healthy lifestyles earlier this year and thought it also tied into our aim to be more empathetic and socially responsible in the community and put something back,’’ Mr Milne said.

Students have researched recipes including fruit salad, vegetable stirfry and soup and will contribute to cooking large portions to share for their school lunches.

‘‘Most of the kids eat fruit and vegetables but whether it’s an every day thing, every week might be a departure from the norm,’’ Mr Milne said.

‘‘This will also equip our students with skills to help mum and dad in deciding what they should and shouldn’t be eating as a family at home.’’

Melisa Shishkin from the GI Cancer Institute said developing healthy eating habits early in life can help reduce the risk of developing gastro-intestinal cancers.

“Gastro-intestinal cancer is the most common form of cancer, with 29 people living in Australia dying each day and over 23,000 people living in Australia diagnosed with GI Cancer each year,’’ she said.

TUCKING IN: Salt Ash Public School students Erin Bell, 12, Courtney Maloney, 11, and Joel Carolan, 12, are among those being sponsored to eat two pieces of fruit and four vegetables every day for a week, to help raise money for the GI Cancer Institute. Picture: Anita Jones