When Jayla Bird ate the piece of freshly cut pineapple she had just donated the smile and subsequent exclamation of “yummy” was the signature sentiment at the latest offering of the Archie Stouffer Elementary School’s new Salad Club.
Led by the school’s principal Jane Austin and her student helpers the Catering Crew Action Team this event uses the contributions of students to provide a produce buffet in the school’s family studies classroom on the last Wednesday each month.
Austin said this club brings a nutritious option to students promotes health and improves student learning.
“We see better behaviour if kids are fed and eating nutritiously” she said.
If students want to participate in the club they are encouraged to bring in one fruit and one vegetable donation which is then prepared and served by Austin and the action team. However the buffet is open to all and supplemented for students who forget or are unable to contribute.
Once a week the student catering team is also responsible for helping with the snack program and they also assist with the planning of the menu for the Express Breakfast Club three days a week: Monday Tuesday and Thursday. They range from Grade 5 to 6. Eligible students are from Grade 5 to 8.
One of its members Hannah Gartshore said it makes her feel good to know she can make a difference.
Any extra food from the event is bagged up and given to students who forget or don’t have a lunch to eat. “It’s cool that we have this [to give]” she said.
The donations continue to grow as does the participation which doubled since the first one in October.
More contributions could lead to more frequent events.
In the first offering there were mainly Grade 7s and 8s. This time around there were more than 40 students of virtually every grade and gender who have the opportunity to eat carrots cucumbers sweet bell peppers lettuce pickles avocados and broccoli and rice krispies squares made by the action team. The next club is the last Wednesday in January.
Austin has spoken to the Food for Kids Haliburton County co-ordinator Aaron Walker that funding could be available to help with this initiative. One thought she said is to use the money to purchase a mobile refrigerated salad bar unit.This would enable food to be served in places other than the classroom with kitchen facilities.
She organized the same offering at her last school Bobcaygeon Public School which was held just once a month with two sittings each drawing upwards of 80 people. The idea came from a successful meal event.
The target is to have a similar draw to Bobcaygeon.
“That’s our goal because we roughly have the same population. If we can even get a quarter of the kids participating that would be fantastic” she said.