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gibson salad bar (1)

Princess Margaret Secondary School, Penticton, BC

The Farm to School grant offered by Farm to cafeteria Canada and the Whole Kids Foundation was just what we needed to kick start a salad bar program at our high school in Penticton, BC. My name is Tristan Mennell and I have the good fortune of running the Foods and Cafeteria program at Princess Margaret Secondary. Our school’s cafeteria, the Horseshoe Café, is operated by a hard-working group of students who churn out 100 meals each day. Every Wednesday can now offer a fresh local crunch in that lunch.

Both the students preparing the salad bar and the students eating at the salad bar are aware of where the salad bar food is coming from and they think that it is ‘cool’. Opening a door for students to healthier eating is allowing them to appreciate the tremendous amount of food that is grown locally.

Our team, albeit small, is a very effective team. We have our kitchen manager, Terri, is so eager to get the salad bar program torqueing along and shared on twitter. The program has inspired her to make our cafeteria plastic free. Peggy, our master gardener, everyday works with students talking about soils, nutrients, seeding, growing and everything else needed to produce organic food. Our students in the kitchen are the heart of the team though because they are taking the initiative to design and build the salad bar service themselves. Choosing and eating healthy foods from a salad bar is one thing, but learning how to prepare fruits and vegetables for consumption is a life-long skill.

An early impact of the salad bar is the attraction of new clientele to the school cafeteria. Students and staff who don’t normally frequent the cafeteria come now only on ‘salad bar Wednesdays’. They love it. Having not spent much grant money yet, we are brainstorming how the money can be spent so that we can efficiently prepare a daily salad bar. Our cafeteria is not designed to house a refrigerated salad bar unit. To overcome this hurdle, we are simply using ice in a few plastic containers to keep food safe on a table placed within the cafeteria line-up. Nothing fancy for the moment is needed.

This being the first year of our program, we are still establishing connections with farmers in the area to supply food to us for the beginning of the next school year. At the moment, we are relying on a local grocery store that works very hard at supplying fruits and veg grown within a 60km radius. By year 3 of this program we hope to have the farmer in the school showing their face and sharing their passion for growing.

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