Heydon Park Secondary, Toronto, ON
2017-2018 (Year 2)
Heydon Park Secondary School is Toronto District School Board’s only all-female high school that provides programming for students with learning challenges to help each student reach their full potential. We run both a credit and non-credit program for just over 150 students where we focus on a Hands-On, Minds-On approach to learning.
We are currently in our second year of the salad bar program and there are no signs of students losing interest. In the first week of school students were already asking, “when will salad bar lunches be starting?” As a school located in the downtown core of Toronto who serves free lunches to all students, we are still competing with the local fast food restaurants, therefore the need to encourage our students to make healthy lunch time choices is always present. There are times when even a free lunch can’t complete with the call of french fries and cheeseburgers, but that doesn’t seem to be the case on salad bar lunch day! On a typical lunch day we serve between 80 to 90 students but on salad bar lunch day the line is out the cafeteria and between 120 to 130 students come for lunch.
To help encourage buy-in to the program we use hydroponic growing systems in two of our classrooms to grow the salad bar lettuce all year round. We don’t always make enough for the salad bar each week, but the students love being involved in the growing of the food we serve. We also grow leafy greens, herbs and some peppers in our outdoor garden beds built on a vacant tennis court. The students love working outside to care for and harvest our crops. The pride they feel in helping to provide food to feed the school is unmistakable. This year we even started learning how to grow micro-greens on a larger scale so that we can provide different types of sprouts to our salad bar selections. Students were amazed to learn not only how nutritious micro-greens are for us, but more importantly about how delicious micro-greens taste. As one student told us, “I can’t believe I’m eating a broccoli sprout and loving it because I hate broccoli!”
The students in our hospitality courses in both the credit and non-credit program are responsible for planning and preparing the weekly salad bar. With the help of our hospitality teacher, students create salad bar themes and then work to prepare the variety of salad bar toppings needed. Both the Mediterranean and Caribbean themed salad bar weeks have been hugely popular!
We love the salad bar lunch at Heydon Park and we are looking forward to trying out even more themes to use in next year’s salad bar lunches!
2016-2017 (Year 1)
Our high school is located in the core of downtown Toronto where we have fast-food restaurants surrounding us that students can walk to in minutes, but more students turn up excited for lunch on Salad Bar day than on any other day of the week.
The introduction of the Salad Bar to our school cafeteria services every Wednesday has been an amazing success. To see student excited to eat lunch every Wednesday, to have students ask “Is today Salad Bar day?” because they want it to be salad bar day makes all of the work worth it!
The connection between students growing the food served in the Salad Bar is inspiring. We work with FoodShare Toronto to grow food in some indoor hydroponic tower gardens and in our outdoor garden that was built on an old vacant tennis court.
The students see that food being grown organically at the school and harvested at it’s peak freshness tastes better than what they get at the grocery store. It has provided us with an opportunity to teach about food justice and security so that students can empower themselves through the growing of food. We’ve included some workshops about Indigenous food systems for our students. It has motivated some students to start looking at ways they can grow food at home. All schools need to have this program.