The salad bar at École Saint-Denis, Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu (Québec)
École Saint-Denis is an elementary school located in Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Montérégie, Quebec and it received a Farm to School Salad Bar grant in 2018. The school has had a lot of success involving its students in the operation of the salad bar and integrating it into the curriculum.
In addition to helping set up the salad bar, students grow some of the produce for it and learn about healthy eating through curriculum-related activities!
Before we get into the Q&A, let’s learn a little more about the school (all of the information about the salad bar and snacks is from pre-COVID times):
École Saint-Denis is a public elementary school with a population of 170 students. It is located in a rural village.
Its farm to school program is coordinated entirely by the school’s before- and after-school care service, which has 80 to 100 students enrolled in it each day. The salad bar complements the childcare service’s other projects that aim to encourage healthy eating habits, including gardening and cooking initiatives.
École Saint-Denis’ farm to school program has been built from the childcare service’s “Healthy Choice” initiative, which was the first step in its broader healthy eating project. This initiative allows young people to carry out, each week, activities related to the preparation of healthy snacks, such as a smoothie workshop. Other projects, such as the salad bar and the gardens, were born from this initiative.
The salad bar is supported by a committee made up of the school childcare service coordinator (Véronique St-Germain), an educator from the childcare service who is responsible for cooking and gardening workshops (Véronique Charron), a nutritionist and health promotion advisor from the CISSS (Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais), as well as community partners, the municipality, recreation staff and volunteers.
The salad bar is mainly supplied with local products through partnerships with a local grocery store (Bonduelle), a local organic farm when its products are in season (La Fibre Végétale), and a local orchard. The school’s gardens and indoor growing lab also provide much of the produce for the salad bar.
Students enrolled in the childcare program, with the help of an educator, harvest and prepare the vegetables every Monday so that all students in the school and members of the school team can enjoy the salad bar the following day.