While the province announced it would be expanding its school food program last week, one school south of Edmonton has been providing its students with nutritious meals for three years now.
Scott Hall is a teacher at Ermineskin School in Maskwacis. He told the Alberta Morning News on Sunday that the program has been very successful.
“Not only has it been successful in terms of student attendance and academic achievement, but the cost is very sustainable.” said Hall. “We do it for less than a dollar a day for breakfast, lunch and snacks. We feed everybody from kindergarten to grade 12.”
Hall said buying local is what makes the so cost effective.
“We utilize local grocers and local producers, and we ask churches for help. We ask community members to help in terms of planting an extra row in the springtime, and we collect it in the fall. That’s a small part, it’s a big part but a small part.” Said Hall.
The school also cuts costs by having the high school kids prepare the meals.
“That is the key thing, you can’t just rely on the elementary schools to fend for themselves so to speak, you need to have the involvement of the older students in the prep of the food.” said Hall. “Because you know of course, you can’t have 10-year-olds in the kitchen. We need to have the high school students prepping the food, and they’ll rise to the occasion.”
Though the elementary school kids don’t help cook the meals, Hall said they do learn the importance of nutrition, and how to grow food.
Hall said they’ve had positive, measurable results since the program was implemented.
“Every year our graduation rates increase.” Hall said. “The history of Ermineskin has basically been the rose that grew from concrete.”
“Absolutely, we have every year seen a rise in the number of our graduates, and that’s an amazing thing to see.”