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This article was published 27/11/2017 (208 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Healthy eating is becoming more and more prominent in schools among the young children.
There are several initiatives to encourage children to understand the importance of eating healthy and that it can be just as fast and easy as ordering food at a fast-food chain. The Canadian Produce Marketing Association partnered with 30 schools across Canada to have the students be chefs for a day as part of their Freggie Children’s program.
Seven Oaks School Division’s Victory School (395 Jefferson Ave.) was one of the participants. Students developed food skills by making simple recipes such as a tomato watermelon salad, pizza crunch and southwestern spice roasted chickpeas, cucumber boats filled with hummus, spicy carrot French fried and tortilla veggie roll-ups.
Chef for a Day is an educational program focused on health, food safety and great taste with the intention of including students at every step. The program was piloted in 2015 in Nova Scotia, has been tailored to a national level, and can be run with minimal funds.
The CPMA gave the school a gift card of $250 to buy the ingredients and utensils they needed for this event. Victory School teacher Cheryl McQueen, who was part of organizing the event, said one of the goals of this event was to get kids trying foods that they may not try elsewhere.
Students cooked with the Half Your Plate philosophy in which half their plates should be filled with vegetables and fruits at mealtimes to eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily.
"It’s a better way for them to visually remember that they should be eating that much at every meal," McQueen said.
Students made chef hats with parchment paper, and McQueen got them disposable aprons. She commented a student told her he was feeling like an adult wearing his uniform.
Emma Sparks-Areia, an eight-year-old student, said she was really excited to prep the food and eat the meals she prepared herself. Her favourite part was cutting the tomatoes, watermelon and onions, and smashing feta cheese.
"Eating healthy keeps your body healthy, and you have a lot of energy," she said of what she learned while cooking.
McQueen’s class is part of the Little Green Thumbs indoor gardening program where elementary, and high school students have the opportunity to grow food in their classrooms. In doing that, they learn about nutrition, environmental stewardship, sustainable food systems and community interdependence. The cucumbers used during the events were grown in their Room 1.
"Anytime that I can help kids link what we’re learning here with what they see in their family and their community, I want them to form these links because if they try it here and they like it here, they are more likely to eat it at home," she said. "That’s the key, to get kids to try foods in a variety of places."