Eastdale Collegiate High School, Toronto ON
2017-2018 (Year 2)

Eastdale CI is a small high school located on the East side of downtown Toronto. Our school community is tiny, especially for a Toronto high school. We serve about 100 exceptional students who travel to our school from diverse communities across the city of Toronto.
Our salad bar program is entering its third year. During that time we have leveraged our partnership with Foodshare and Loyalty One in order to be able to produce in-school, all of the greens that we use in our salad bar program, which currently operates two days a week.

The salad bar was championed this year by Science Teacher Laura Shehdula. She creatively integrated the salad bar production into the curriculum for her grade 11 environmental science class. Students learned about the environmental impacts of global food production systems and gained hands-on experience planting and growing produce for the salad bar. They also explored opportunities for purchasing local produced food in the city of Toronto. Students in this class were also involved in our Salad Bar Ambassador program, during which they worked in our cafeteria at lunch time promoting and serving the locally produced food that they prepared to students and staff in the cafeteria. As an incentive our Salad Bar ambassadors were given honorariums to encourage participation in this program and to increase student buy in. As a result of this student involvement we saw student use of the salad bar increase.

The Farm to Cafeteria Salad Bar Grant continued to provide us with a perfect opportunity to more strongly connect our partnership with Foodshare into healthy eating and nutrition programs at the school. The salad bar has meant that we can easily showcase and serve food products that were grown, harvested, and prepared by the students of our school.

The students were highly engaged in the process of creating the salad bar from start to finish. They used locally sourced vegetables from the school’s rooftop garden and the grow towers that were donated by Food Share and Loyalty One. We currently operate 7 hydroponic grow towers that we use in conjunction with our rooftop garden, to produce all of the salad greens that are served in the salad bar. Students harvest and clean the greens and integrate them into the salad bar. They also prepare the vegetables and fruits, dice them and integrate all these items into the salads for the students at the school. “I didn’t know how to chop vegetables before this,” Shamaya Markland, 16, said in a video interview. Shamaya was an active participant and ambassador in the Salad Bar Program. “The salad bar program taught me many skills from how to cut up vegetables to how to make healthier food choices.”

The Salad Bar Program continues to be a genuine success at Eastdale.

2016-2017 (Year 1)

Eastdale CI is a small inner city high school with about 120 students in the eastern part of downtown Toronto. Over the past five years we have identified a need at our school to have a stronger focus on food and nutrition issues. School surveys and observations told us that many of our students were not getting enough to eat, and in particular were not accessing a balanced diet. Particularly glaring were the low numbers of vegetables and fruits that students were consuming. In response to this issue we greatly expanded the nutrition offerings at the school. We began serving free lunches to all of our students (in the past we had only provided free lunches to students in need). We also initiated a mid morning meal program, in which we deliver a balanced three food group meal to all of the students in the school. Around the same time that we expanded our student nutrition offerings we started a partnership with Foodshare Toronto. This partnership was centered around a massive and little used 16,000 square foot accessible rooftop space. The partnership saw this space transformed into a rooftop farm and teaching garden. This space serves as a location to teach students about growing healthy food as well as a space for our partner farmers at Foodshare to employ students and produce food for farmers markets and restaurants around the City of Toronto. The Farm to Cafeteria Salad Bar Grant provided us with a perfect opportunity to more strongly connect our partnership with Foodshare into healthy eating and nutrition programs at the school. The arrival of the salad bar has meant that we can easily showcase and serve food products that were grown, harvested and prepared by the students of our school. Our salad bar project is student driven. Students in our “Seed to Market” and “Exploring the World of Work” classes have been responsible for all aspects of the promotion and delivery of the salad bar. These student farmers and chefs work with farmers at Foodshare to plant and care for all of the greens and sprouts consumed in the salad bar. During the winter months hydroponic grow towers and cold frames are used to grow the produce that is served. The salad bar itself is prepared and staffed at lunch by student volunteers. These students plan and prepare the menu, and work at lunch as ‘salad bar ambassadors’ to promote salad and healthy eating to the student body at Eastdale. This program has had a sizable impact on healthy eating for the student population at Eastdale. About 20% of our students have been involved with preparing, harvesting or planning the food for our salads. We serve the salads twice a week in the cafeteria and find that they are eaten by about 30% of the student population. Salads and healthy eating have become an even bigger part of the conversation at Eastdale, thanks to our Farm to Cafeteria Salad Bar Grant.