New food program gives high school students lessons in sustainability — and tasty tacos

Holy Heart of Mary High School, St. John’s, NL
Grant term 2022-2024

CBC News
Dec 10, 2022 11:59 AM CST
Amanda Gear

Farm to Cafeteria teaches schools sustainable food production and funds kitchen equipment

Read the original CBC news story here and watch their video coverage of Holy Heart’s salad bar day

A new national program that introduces schools to sustainable food production launched in St. John’s on Wednesday, with a $10,000 grant for new cafeteria equipment — and tasty tacos.

Farm to Cafeteria provides funding for kitchen equipment, which they did at Holy Heart of Mary High School on Wednesday, donating the money for a salad bar, hydroponics equipment to grow lettuce, and other essential kitchen equipment.

Becky Winsor is the co-ordinator of the Food to Cafeteria program and a teacher at Holy Heart of Mary High School in St. John’s. (Katie Breen/CBC)

“We wanted to ensure that students had access to food, especially the students that can’t afford food,” said nutrition teacher Becky Winsor, the program co-ordinator at the high school. “We know that there are a lot of food insecurities in our school and within the community, so we wanted to have food for all of the students.”

Holy Heart students pitched in to help prepare the food for the lunchtime launch event, cooking tacos and making salad for 200 of their peers.

Holy Heart’s cafeteria lost its contracted food service provider last year and has been trying different programs to fill the gap in services, which is where Farm to Cafeteria comes in. Local farmers donated most of the food used in the program and the school used Farm to Cafeteria’s grant for kitchen equipment.

The program aims to provide fresh and healthy food in schools, as well as hands-on learning and community connection, to help students develop lifelong healthy eating habits and improve food literacy by teaching them how to grow, cook and eat healthy sustainable food.

The fundraising and food preparation shows the students how expensive food is getting, how much food is wasted, and the effects of food insecurity on people and communities.

Student David Wade raved about the tacos. (Katie Breen/CBC)

Grade 11 student Kelli McCarthy helped make the tacos.

“We want to help out students who can’t get food at home because we don’t want them to be starving or anything,” she said.

Winsor said the response from students was amazing.

“There were so many students that there was a line down the hallway. We are super-excited that we could feed all of these people with local food.”

The skyrocketing price of food and the rising inflation rate is causing food insecurity in many communities, said Winsor, creating a sense of urgency for the students to make more meals for the school.

“For future events we will need more food. It seems like tacos are going over well, so I think we will need to prepare more the next time,” she said.

Student David Wade said the program will help people.

“Some people don’t have a lunch, and if they come in and get one then it can boost their day and increase their academic performance, so they can have a good lunch and a full stomach and the brain has brain food,” he said, adding, “These tacos are the best!”

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