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College Heights Secondary School, Guelph ON
2017-2018 (Year 2)

This year’s theme for the College Heights Secondary School Salad Bar program has been “Connections!” In Guelph, Ontario we live in a City with a rich agricultural background. As a small vocational school with 400 students we have been able to connect to all corners of the school and community to get more students involved in the salad bar. Not only are students eating more fresh local foods, they are working in their classes to produce and prepare food as well as designing gardens and launching a social media campaign advertising our salad bar throughout the school, so more students skip the mall and eat great food in our school cafeteria.

One key connection from this year that increased the number of students involved in the salad bar was bringing in a local butcher for a hands-on butchering class. This was a hit with the hospitality students as they connected the foods that we eat with the processing skills needed for those foods and planning how they can be incorporated in a nutritious salad bar. Students learned where the different cuts of meat came from. We cured the leg to make a ham and then put it in our smoker, made sausages, BBQ skewers and more, all to add options to the salad bar service. This workshop was so popular with students that we now plan to do this workshop every year.

Another great connection from this year was because of the tireless efforts of Lori Furfaro, our Hospitality Teacher, who has been the champion of the salad bar. She started the salad bar as a meal option six years ago with little student participation and has been working to engage students ever since with great success. For the last two years Salad Bar Service or “Combo Days” has become a staple every Wednesday at school. This year Lori connected the Farm to School initiative with our grade 10 art class who participated in the National Farm to School poster contest! We are very excited that two of our students won the NATIONAL poster competition for advertising the salad bar. These posters will be put up in September, and they will launch a social media campaign asking students to post a picture of themselves eating healthy food with the #chsssaladbar . All students who post with this # will have their name go into a weekly draw to win a free salad bar lunch. This campaign will be a great addition to the grand opening of our rebranded cafeteria “The Garden of Eatin’” this fall!

Finally, this year has been about connecting with ALL students to engage them with the food we eat. We have had more and more students working in both our onsite and offsite school gardens, learning about growing fresh local food. Integrating Science, Cooperative Education, Hospitality, Horticulture, Careers and Civics classes who all worked in the gardens, making connections between seeds and salads. The students unanimously agreed “It’s amazing how much work it takes to grow things!”

All of these connections and efforts have had the most amazing results: the lineup for lunch is longest on salad bar days! Last year, it was mostly staff who modeled healthy eating habits, but this year students outnumbered staff on a regular basis. We are excited to see what next year brings with the launch of our rebranded cafeteria: “The Garden of Eatin’”.

College Heights Secondary School, 371 College Ave West, Guelph, ON


2016-2017 (Year 1)

College Heights Secondary School, A Bushel of Beets…..

College Heights Secondary School in the Upper Grand District School Board has had a fantastic first year connecting our school to local food and farms, and launching a full salad bar as part of our cafeteria service. Here’s a story about a bushel of beets that was donated to our school and the amazing domino effect of free beets. In November, Everdale Farm had an excess of beets and “the pod” a nonprofit food distributor offered our school a bushel for free!! At first we didn’t know what to do with that many BEETS, but in the spirit of innovation and sharing we said yes to the bushel and started to think of what we could do with pounds and pounds of beets. Including them in our cafeteria service was the first idea. Let’s do roasted roots as a side to a lunch instead of fries! And since the beets were free we did a day of free local food samples to entice students to buy the yummy local foods in our cafeteria. The food tasting was a hit and many students came back for seconds and thirds, but we still had pounds and pounds of beets! Then we decided to use the beets in a class activity that would bring classes together in the school. Our hospitality program hosted an interdisciplinary activity inviting other classes to join them in pickling and canning the beets.

By canning the beets we could teach some hands on food skills to our students, bring cross curricular classes together and preserve local foods to use in our Salad bar. The canning was such a success that we had over 25 jars of beets so we added them to our School’s Winter Sale. At the winter sale, hosted by our horticulture program, we were able to sell all the jars making over $120 in pickled beets. We decided to put all of our profit back into our local foods program and took the opportunity to host our first school wide local snack program. We went to the farmers market and bought a few bushels of local apples and asked our Baking program to bake enough healthy muffins to feed our whole school (450 students)l. Then in the beginning of semester two, to kick off a successful start to the semester four classes joined together to deliver apples and muffins to each student in the school. If our first year of the Farm to School program is any indication of what could happen next, College Heights cannot wait to see what will happen in the next two years. After all, who knew a bushel of beets would bring so much to one school.

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