A new salad bar at St. Jean de Brébeuf Catholic Secondary School is making it easier for students to get their daily serving of fruits and vegetables.
Filled daily with local produce, the salad bar is the result of a $9,000 grant from Farm to School Canada, an organization aimed at bringing healthy food into schools while providing students with “hands-on learning opportunities that foster food literacy, all while strengthening the local food system and enhancing school and community connectedness.”
The new addition will help support the school’s existing Cafeteria Program where students prepare and cook healthy, fresh options from scratch to serve during the lunch periods.
To help promote the new feature, students in the program assembled and distributed approximately 300 taco bowls using ingredients available from the salad bar.
“Students are really excited to experience a variety of healthy, fresh and local foods at affordable prices,” said Public Health Nurse Diane Lau.
“The overall goal is to train and support students in the Foods, Hospitality and Tourism stream to run a healthy and successful salad bar using produce from our school garden and from local farmers and producers.”
Salads cost $4 each, with extra charges for bacon, chicken and/or cheese.
“We’re the only school in Hamilton to offer our students a salad bar,” said Teacher Luigi Chiarini, who heads up the Cafeteria Program.
“From a mental health perspective, it’s been proven that when you eat better, you feel better,” said Public Health Dietitian Elizabeth Smith, who noted that most Canadians don’t get the recommended amount of vegetables in their diet.
With access to more nutritional options on site, Smith is hoping students will choose to stay in for lunch.
“Aside from the health component, there’s something to be said about coming together and eating as a school community.”
“As the program develops, there will be more choices and variety as different cultural foods will be incorporated into the salad bar to reflect the diversity of students attending our school,” added Lau.
“Students will have ongoing opportunities to voice their input and feedback and make suggestions for positive changes.”