When a group of students approached teacher Chris Peters at St. Bonaventure’s College asking for a wider variety of healthy options in the cafeteria, he knew who to ask for advice.
Sarah Ferber from the Food Security Network of NL (FSN) — an organization with a broad mandate of increasing the availability and access of healthy food for everyone — had just been in the school speaking to students about food security issues in the province, and she mentioned the national organization Farm to Cafeteria Canada were looking to start a program here in the province.
Now, after a year of planning, applications and teamwork between the school, FSN, Lester’s Farm Market and Chartwells Food Services, the Farm to Cafeteria Canada salad bar program is being launched. The self-serve all-you-can-eat salad bar allows students to pick from a variety of vegetables and fruits, with as much being sourced locally as possible, and changing with the seasons.
One of the main ideas behind the program, says Peters, is to get kids thinking about their food — where it comes from and how it’s grown — and to encourage them to consider the benefits of local food. 90 per cent of Newfoundland & Labrador’s fresh vegetables are shipped in from outside the province, according to a 2007 government report.
St. Bonaventure’s College has been a trailblazer in this regard: they have a composting program to divert organic waste and a school garden that produces food for a local food bank. One long-term goal of this program is to expand the garden and integrate the food the students grow into the salad bar, and to promote more food literacy by connecting these programs with the curriculum.
Peters is eager to see more schools across the province launch farm to school salad bars.
“I’m glad our school is starting this, but I’d really like to see other schools in the province take this on.”
“We’re getting the ball rolling,” he laughs. ”Or the seed planted. Whatever metaphor you want to use.”
St. Bonaventure’s College (www.stbonaventurescollege.ca) is a school for kindergarten to grade 12 in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. It is an independent Roman Catholic School in the Jesuit Tradition. St. Bonaventure’s Farm to School Program is part of a national Nourishing Schools Communities Project funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and Health Canada through the Coalitions Linking Action & Science for Prevention (CLASP) initiative.
The Food Security Network of Newfoundland & Labrador (Soon to be known as Food First NL) (www.foodsecuritynews.com) is a provincial, membership-based, non-profit organization which was founded in 1998 in response to growing concerns about hunger and poverty in the province. The organization’s mission is to actively promote comprehensive, community-based solutions to ensure physical and economic access to adequate and healthy food for all.
Farm to Cafeteria Canada (www.farmtocafeteriacanada.ca) is a national network that promotes, supports, links farm to cafeteria programs, policy and practice from coast to coast to coast. Their programs bring healthy, local, and sustainably produced foods – including seafood and wild foods – into public agencies. Farm to School, Farm to Campus, and Farm to Hospital are all Farm to Cafeteria programs. Farm to Cafeteria program development and operations are guided by the vision and mission of Farm to Cafeteria Canada.