Food for thought: Colquitz students learn through hot lunch

Colquitz middle school teacher is ensuring that students will continue to develop healthy eating habits

Grade 6 students Katie Sternig and Becky York serve up a hot lunch to students at Colquitz middle shool.

We’re all taught the food pyramid as children, but a Colquitz middle school teacher is ensuring that students will continue to develop healthy eating habits as they enter their teens.

For the last several years, Grade 6 teacher Laura-Lyn Helton has been getting students involved in a twice-monthly hot lunch program, providing an educational avenue to learn about proper nutrition while also giving hands-on cooking experience. The program is primarily funded through farm-to-school grants and feeds about 120 students and staff at each lunch.

“It came about because I wanted to get a school garden,” said Helton, who adds she has a passion for healthy eating. “In 2013, I finished a master’s degree from Royal Roads and my topic was the partnerships to get a healthy school learning garden.”

Helton said she went to the school board and presented her plan for a permaculture food forest, but was met with doubts that students would embrace eating more vegetables, so she took it upon herself to try a more nutritious hot lunch program instead.

“I got a big salad bar and lots of pots and knives, all the things to actually create a healthy local lunch,” she said. “I live in Central Saanich, so I’m able to go to the farms out there and buy food that is local. I also supplement it with food from grocery stores.”

With a team of parent volunteers, Helton put on about 16 lunches in the first year before opening the program up to involve Grade 6 students. Now she has about 30 students helping out by cutting potatoes, slicing buns, making coleslaw and cooking salmon.

“It’s quite a buzz in there from 8:15 a.m. until the actual serving time,” said Anna Lisa Bond, middle school careers and transitions co-ordinator with the Greater Victoria School District. “It really is quite something to see in action.”

Bond said the students are learning more than simply how to cook: Helton has taken them to local greenhouses and farms to gain a better understanding of nutrition at all stages of food production.

“The students are learning about healthy living and food sustainability,” said Bond. “The hot lunch is the end result, but the educational value that’s happening all the way through it is quite remarkable.”

Helton said the students have been very receptive to the program – “proving that kids do actually eat vegetables” – and hopes it will continue to grow in the years to come.

Likewise, Bond said she’d like to see the program partner with local farmers and other groups to teach students about sustainable agriculture, as well as potential business opportunities, career paths and life skills in working with food.

“This little program, I think, would really benefit from some more partnerships and connections to community or the community wanting to be a part of it in some way.”

 

jacob.zinn@saanichnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Join Groove Kitchen for a funky free concert at Brydon Park in Saanich

The July 23 concert is one of eight hosted by Saanich Parks and Recreation this summer

City of Victoria to hold formal safety review after man was left hanging from raised bridge

More and more people seen ignoring safety measurements in place, city staff say

Saanich council will consider tax reduction scenarios for 2020 budget

Coun. Rebecca Mersereau however warns of cutting additional funding for capital expenditures

Oak Bay instructors teach free outdoor yoga classes at Willow Beach Park

Practise yoga for free Tuesdays at 6 p.m. all summer

Jurors talk about trial of U.S. man convicted in 1987 murders of Saanich couple

Three jurors offer a window into deliberations during the trial

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

POLL: Do you use a food delivery app?

With modern life becoming more hectic with each passing day and so… Continue reading

Vancouver Island teacher suspended for professional misconduct

Grade 8 shop teacher admits to use of vulgar language and profanities toward students, parents

Northern B.C. double homicide, suspicious death: A timeline of what we know

Two teens from Port Alberni are now wanted Canada-wide in connection to the three deaths

B.C. wine industry legend Harry McWatters dies

Among his accomplishments, McWatters founded the province’s first estate winery, Sumac Ridge Estate

Provincial health body refuses to release full findings of cancer triage system audit

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions

Southern resident killer whale died of blunt trauma, likely from ship

J34 was found more than two years ago near Sechelt, but the necropsy findings have now been released

B.C. rail crossing death highlights risks for people in wheelchairs: watchdog

Transportation Safety Board points to ‘persistent risks faced by persons using assistive devices’

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Most Read