St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Port Elgin, ON
Grant term 2020-2022
St. Joseph’s Catholic School, in Port Elgin, Ontario, had our Farm to Cafeteria plan all laid out.
We had a purchase plan, we had a time frame, we had volunteers already to start our big plans, and we were excited.
Then COVID came, and we had to wait.
We saw and experienced our world as we have never had before. Lives changed and so did our plans. Following our government and school boards regulations we have now just begun to execute our completely new formatted Farm to Cafeteria plan.
With all that said, we are so excited to start our program for our first year. We live in Bruce County, a beautiful small town area along Lake Huron. A small town that has big support. Surrounded by farms and nature we are never short of fresh fruit and vegetables all year long, with an abundance of fish and meat. Yet, we want to teach children where their food comes from, and how to grow it themselves. With students from Junior Kindergarten all the way to grade 8, there is so much to be taught.
We have always provided a Breakfast Club program to all of our students. We see the Farm to Cafeteria grant to be an amazing opportunity to grow.
We are focusing on teaching meal planning so students will have the confidence and knowledge to eat healthy. This is a great opportunity to teach them how this will fuel their physical bodies and also their mental health.
Our first step has been to place tabletop gardens into some of our classrooms. With a population of 243 students, we can provide them with hands-on learning by engaging in the very beginning, growing their own food.
Even though we have just begun this phase we see such excitement and wonder from the children. This also helps students ask questions and want to explore, which opens conversations to learn more.
We also have future plans to begin a lunch time salad program. We do not have a communal cafeteria in our school and children enjoy their lunch in their classrooms. We are preparing to begin a weekly program that students will be able to order the “salad of the week” and have it delivered to their classrooms. Each kit will be themed for that week, depending on the season. The students will then be able to be hands on making their salad. Our focus will be to have zero cost to students and offer it to the entire population.
We also will be creating exploration kits that will be accessible in our library. They will be connected to an educational format about farming. An example is one kit will focus on bees and their importance to our environment.
The most wonderful aspect of all our Farm to Cafeteria plans is students will be involved from the beginning to the end. If it is growing vegetables in the classroom, preparing the salads, or exploring how our community is a massive provider for grocery stores, restaurants, and homes, students can remove the food insecurity that we may experience.
Over the last two years, with the changes, the struggles, and the small triumphs, we have learned: Kids are strong.
Kids are resilient.
Kids are amazing.
We are proud to be part of the Farm to Cafeteria Canada’s family and want to continue this great path of healthy, sustainable, eating.