Students at Parkland Middle School got a taste of a new salad bar program this week. On Tuesday students lined up all the way out of the atrium in Parkland to fill their plates with an assortment of salads, fruits, a hot plate – which was chili that day – and a bun.
“It’s taken over a year to get to this stage,” Scott Holt, Parkland principal, said.
First they applied for the grant through the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom’s Farm to Salad Bar program.
At the end of last year they received just over $8,200 and began purchasing the necessary equipment, as well as training staff and students to run the salad bar.
Equipment included an industrial dishwasher and the salad bar trolley.
The meal only costs the students about $5, which is charged to recover costs.
Megan Driver and Alison Farkvan spearheaded the effort. Both work in the Aboriginal Education department of the school.
“I heard about it through other school districts that were doing it,” Driver said. “So we looked into it online and applied for the grant and we were lucky enough to receive it. It was just a chance for us to bring healthier food in, lots of healthier food.”
Driver said they are trying to provide meals to students at as low a cost as possible and “to increase access to fresh, nutritious food choices for our students.”
The Parkland PAC is subsidizing 50 cents of each student’s meal to make it as affordable as possible as well.
Nancy Zier, from the local Salvation Army, was at Parkland during the first salad bar to present a contribution of $1,000 to the program which would go to provide five free meals each week for students.
Zier said the program is great for the school and it was easy to jump on board Parkland’s project because the organizers already had secured the grant, the equipment and the training. The funding comes from the higher levels of the organization and is to help with nutritional programs in the community.
They have also had contributions from School District 5.
Fort Steele Food Services will be providing a hot dish every week – this week it was chili and a bun.
“We’re going to try to incorporate local and aboriginal foods into the menu whenever possible,” Driver said.
Six students were also sponsored for Foodsafe courses. Three of the students are from the Aboriginal Education department and three from the rest of the school. All of those students helped with Tuesday’s salad bar.
Holt described the program as a school initiative to improve healthy eating.