Original post by Nutrikids, reproduced with full permission.
"Ok so I am not the fun police, but I think it’s a sad situation when volunteers, time and budget are the determining factors when feeding school students in canteens, over nutritional, behavioural and educational factors."
Summer is upon us… , the days are getting longer, the nights are getting warmer, the cicadas are cicada-ing. And that brings us to summer menus in canteens across the country. Bring on the amber, canteen approved paddlepops and slushies! Because sugary treats are exactly what kids need just before going back into the class to concentrate and learn on already humid days in stuffy classrooms, right?
Ok so I am not the fun police, but I think it’s a sad situation when volunteers, time and budget are the determining factors when feeding school students in canteens, over nutritional, behavioural and educational factors. Yes, running a canteen that serves quality food, with a variety that meets the needs of a vast range of tastes and dietary requirement/restrictions and preferences is hard work. But it is incredibly rewarding, when kids and adults alike walk past the kitchen and comment on the delicious aromas wafting up the stairs into the classrooms.
It is rewarding when parents come to see you after they have moved onto a new school and lament the loss of a canteen that places the students wellbeing before its profits, and proactively go about trying to make changes in their new schools. It is rewarding knowing that parents are happy for their children to eat from the canteen every day, not because they can’t be bothered making packed lunches, but because they know that what they can order from us is as good or better than that which they can provide on a daily basis.
It would be so much easier for us to get a (free) branded freezer from an icecream company and stock it with boxes of their cartoon character themed frozen treats. We would make loads of money too. But I know I wouldn’t be working or volunteering in the canteen if our school decided to go down that path. And according to the Nutrikids survey results, many of you don’t volunteer at your canteen because they sell junk food to your kids and you don’t really want to spend your time supporting that when you could be supporting other school needs that you agree with, like reading, or time-keeping at the athletics carnival, or helping in the uniform shop. Many commented that they would more likely volunteer at the canteen if the menu was healthier.
We have never had iceblocks or icecreams in our canteen. We have what we call ‘freezies’. Originally they were simply fruit that we juiced and froze in small cups with a wooden stirrer… the kids LOVED them and we’d sell loads. But they take up a fair amount of space in our freezer as they had to be laid out on trays to freeze, so nothing could be placed on top or too close for fear of spilling the precious juice, making them a little impractical. This summer we have discovered zip pops… a BPA-free plastic tube with a zip lock top, that we simply pour the juice into and freeze. Alongside our straight juice varieties are:
Pina Colada - Blended fresh pineapple and fresh coconut water
The Tropical Crush – Mixed fruit that has been frozen – strawberries, pineapple, watermelon, honey dew, a little mango and banana, blended with ice
Pear/Strawberry – pear juice blended with frozen strawberries
Frozen Fruit Yoghurt – plain yoghurt blended with frozen mixed berries (raw organic honey can be added to sweeten)
The portion sizes are perfect and the variations are limitless.
You don’t have to resort to the pre-packaged run of the mill ice blocks and icecreams sold to canteens at this time of the year. With a little confidence, planning and imagination, you can create popular frozen treats that aren’t full of colours, number or refined sugar that the kids love. Trust me, we sold 100 last Friday alone!
Visit www.nutrikids.com.au for more great school canteen ideas.