Heroes’ Memorial School, Cowansville, Québec
2020-2022 (Grant Year 2)
Heroes’ Memorial Elementary School is located in the town of Cowansville and has a student population of 270 from pre-Kindergarten to grade 6.
Heroes’ Memorial takes pride in the fact that they have extremely strong ties with the community. The school has a large group of volunteers, a very active Parent Participation Organization (PPO) and parents involved with projects such as the Gardening Club, the daily breakfast program, Books to Belly, cooking and fundraising activities. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, most volunteer participation grinded to a halt. Just one of many challenges the school experienced over the past two years. Other challenges during the pandemic included food procurement, food waste due to sudden school closures, and staffing issues.
The school cafeteria has provided a daily salad bar service for students and staff since 2017. Originally a homemade style salad bar with ice packs, the salad bar was not very successful at the start. But, each year more and more students and staff purchase the salad bar option at lunchtime. Students are excited about eating a healthy lunch, and now approximately 40 salads per day are sold.
A salad bar unit was purchased with Farm to School funding with the intention of ensuring the food safety of the salad bar contents and increasing the attractiveness of the food presentation. The salad bar continued to be served every day during the past two years, using the homestyle version with icepacks placed on the cafeteria counter. Unfortunately, the salad bar unit could not be used due to lack of volunteers and the requirement that students be served by an adult.
Sonia, the food service provider, is very interested in increasing local food procurement, serving foods that are as fresh as possible, reducing processed and packaged foods and providing home-cooked meals. Sonia continues to purchase all meat products from a local butcher and when available, she purchases her fresh produce from local farmers.
We are happy that the pandemic situation seems to be better and for the 2022-2023 school year we plan to push forward with our project goals of increasing local food procurement, adding more variety to the salad bar menu and increasing the students’ interest in tasting new foods through taste test activities and Ateliers Cinq Épices cooking workshops.
This anglophone elementary school, located in Cowansville in the Montérégie region, is going above and beyond to enable relationships between students, families and the school community. The entire community is involved in projects such as culinary workshops, visits to neighbouring farms, fundraising activities and garden maintenance.
The project allows the students to prepare delicious meals for parents and school staff at their ‘Cooking Event’. This presents itself as a strong learning opportunity as the students are involved in all aspects of the project, from choosing recipes, creating posters, selling tickets, decorating the hall, to preparing and serving the food.
Thus, the support of the Farm to School grant has allowed the existing salad bar project to evolve into a bigger and more diverse project that continues to do good for the community.