We are a rural high school of 160 Grade 8 to 12 students, with some students travelling over an hour and across a ferry from remote communities to the village of Nakusp. Nakusp Secondary is located in the Kootenay Southern Interior, in the Arrow Lakes District.
Our inquiry question was: Will having Foods classes prepare and serve food for the school canteen “Cougar Snacks” encourage healthier eating patterns and healthier options for students? The answer is a definite yes. Pop, candy bars, and high-sodium snacks were removed from vending machines in line with Healthy Schools. Students would come by and ask if they could sample what we are making. Their canteen created an access to sampling this wider range of healthier options.
Foods students, Special Needs students, Special Education Assistants, and myself, all work together to create soups, salads, or simple entrees, such as chilli, burritos, wraps, roasted potato wedges with toppings (kids have loved these), etc. to be offered by volunteer hour students at lunch. The canteen also offers healthy snacks and beverages, such as lower sodium chips, low sodium Thai noodle packaged soups, granola bars, milk, fruit juice, and spritzers.
Having these available has given the students the opportunity to enjoy simple, healthy entrees, especially if they have not had time to pack a lunch. By serving different menu items, more students are bringing more creative lunches and salads to school, which is great to see. Some of the reluctant Foods students who thought they may lose personal lab time, participate in food preparation realizing that they do not lose a lot of lab time. They have come to understand that they are at the heart of the school’s community kitchen food preparation setting and that by preparing the food, they are directly modelling healthy choices to all. It is somewhat of a balancing act, as students, schedules, and activities do not always coincide, but overall, the routine works. Our next step is to invite local chefs (who are also parents or relatives of the students in this close-knit village) to visit and work with us in the continuation of our fun food days.
Thank you healthy schools! We have been able to purchase stainless steel salad bar containers with lids to help dispense the topping options, and stack easier in the fridge.