Gidgalang Kuuyas Naay , Queen Charolotte, BC

“The salad bar was a huge hit today. Local carrots, kale salad with Hollyhock dressing, 3 potato salads -a traditional, a wasabi & a vinaigrette; (our vegan option) Amazing nut & bean veggie burgers, baked Halibut with sea asparagus tartar, and barbequed teriyaki spring salmon. Phew! Student prepared, right down to the condiments. Week 1 down! Thanks for your constant support for such a worthwhile project & movement. ?”  Emmy O’ Gorman, Gid Galang Kuuyas Naay Secondary School.

This sums up the energy and creativity going into a typical salad bar and local food lunches with the leadership of Emmy O’ Gorman, Foods and Nutrition teacher and Kieran Wake, the lunch coordinator at GKNSS. Every week, the students help to plan the salad bar, prepare 3-4 salads with as much local food as possible and create mouth watering homemade dressings with herbs from their own school garden. Even the pizza that was a favourite staple on the menu prior to the salad bar include venison, smoked oolichans, local kale and tomato sauce purchased from the Local Foods Pantry.

All year, the Foods and Nutrition class has been working with seasonal ingredients from farmers, food harvesters, community programs, field trips or just casual walks to nearby plum trees for making dehydrated snacks. Some of this year’s creations included Haida Gwaii apple juice pressed in class with the farmer, home made local goat cheese, Gwaii Tri pizza with chanterelles, venison and local veggies, sushi from food fishing trip to the Copper River, and venison spaghetti.

By the time the salad bar started in April, students had been helping to prepare monthly whole school lunches and creating unique dishes for each other from foods in the freezer, the garden, the field or the ocean. Although spring is a difficult time to get fresh local ingredients, we have been able to incorporate local kale, carrots, greens and herbs into our weekly spread. Although at least three ingredients are served individually, greek salad, potato salad and pasta salad have been a big hit as an accompaniment to the salad bar.

Salad bar has certainly added a new energy to the much anticipated weekly meal because it is something new, fresh and surprising. In fact, one of students said “I’m counting the days to the first salad bar”. Around the same time as the salad bar started, we were gifted a large quantity of fish from the Council of the Haida Nation’s Fisheries Program and deer meat from the Llgaay gwii sdiihlda – Restoring Balance Project in Gwaii Haanas. As a result, the main dishes have also diversified from the usual pizza day to a variety of dishes from coconut curried halibut, baked spring salmon and venison stew. Around the cafeteria, there is talk about developing a local food menu for year end celebration, barbequing fish and deer, planning the greenhouse with funds from Farm to Cafeteria Canada and going back to the Copper River with the Local Foods Pantry and Haida Knowledge Keepers are just some of the upcoming events. June is coming, there is too much to do and too little time.

It has been a good trial run before year end to see what putting out a salad bar entails, coordinating staff to make it happen, engaging youth in decision making and ensuring there are funds to keep it going in September. These are all challenges we face but at the same time they are an opportunity to bring everyone together for a conversation around food, youth and learning.

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