Aspen Park Elementary, Comox, BC
Grant term 2020-2022

By Sarah Picard, Salad Bar Coordinator

The Salad Bar has been amazingly successful at our school so far! Today [spring 2021] was our seventh service at Aspen Park Elementary. After several meetings with the school administrators to coordinate how we could run the Salad Bar service safely under COVID-19 safety protocols, we were able to have it up and running at the end of February. 

Many things needed to come together to ensure the Salad Bar service would run smoothly. We created a cohesive safety plan by communicating with other Salad Bar Coordinators in the Valley for advice and assembled a phenomenal team of parent volunteers. We then provided the staff and students at Aspen Park Elementary with an outline of what the Salad Bar service entailed. The menu, with essential nutritional information, was presented in a colourful and engaging manner for students of all grade levels to read. 

Once the school was geared up and ready, we offered the Salad Bar service once a week on Tuesdays and distributed to students by cohort. Every Monday, volunteers would prepare all the food at the school a day in advance. We served roughly 75-110 students (depending on the cohort) each service. Plates and compost were collected from the participating classes after each service. 

We partnered with a local Farm in Comox Valley where the farm’s pigs, chickens and turkeys help by digesting the compost! What has been noteworthy as an indicator of the program’s success is the limited amount of compost that we bring to the farm each time.

With 100+ students, there is roughly only 4 lbs or less of waste! It’s a sign that our students are aware of the positive environmental impacts of sustainable food systems. 

As of next Tuesday, we will have run the entire school through the Salad Bar program twice. Our first round had a “Southwestern”-themed menu consisting of: 

·       Romaine Lettuce

·       Spring Mix

·       Spinach

·       Corn

·       Carrots

·       Cucumbers

·       Black beans

·       Chickpeas

·       Cheddar cheese

·       Tomatoes

·       Bell peppers

·       Salsa

·       Guacamole

·       Pumpkin seeds

·       Tortilla chips

·       Ranch Dressing

·       Cilantro Lime dressing

 

 Our current theme is Greek where the menu consists of:

·       Romaine Lettuce

·       Spring Mix

·       Spinach

·       Carrots

·       Cucumbers

·       Tomatoes

·       Peppers

·       Kalamata Olives

·       Chickpeas

·       Hummus

·       Tzatziki

·       Pitas

·       Pumpkin seeds

·       Greek Dressing

·       Ranch Dressing

 As we wrap up the second theme, we are anxious and excited for what’s next! With only a few weeks left in the school year, we are hoping to also help the school garden, as well as follow up with all the classes with regards to their experiences with the Salad Bar service. Additionally, as the weather continues to improve, we will be moving towards using more locally sourced food and will be reaching out to partners we have on the Salad Bar Committee. We have numerous contacts that we plan to incorporate in our upcoming services! 

As much as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has thrown a wrench in our efforts globally and locally, we feel that our program has not only been successful, but it has been welcomed and loved by the students and staff of Aspen Park Elementary. The Salad Bar service has been an overwhelmingly positive experience and we are so thankful to be part of this initiative. It is incredibly satisfying and an absolute honour to bring about something that students can enjoy and look forward to. 

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