Health, News

Not Your Typical School Cafeteria

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Like Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon (pictured here), in Yarmoth, Nova Scotia is offering health options to its students. Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Like Meriwether Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon (pictured here), Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School in Yarmoth, Nova Scotia is offering health options to its students. Image: U.S. Department of Agriculture

There are moist carrot cake muffins. Subs made with homemade buns. Fresh baked banana bread. Even the sausage on the pizza is made by hand. And the most expensive item on the menu is $6, including tax.

Yarmouth Consolidated Memorial High School does not have a typical cafeteria.

When the high school opened two years ago, its vice-principal, Derek Lesser, decided that the cafeteria would offer fresh, tasty, nutritious food rather than the deep-fried fare so common in many schools.

There’s always soup on the menu and sometimes a stir-fry that includes 11 vegetables, for which students “come in droves,” said Theresa Bain, one of three people–Carmen Stuart and Tony Papadogioragakis are the others–who do all the cooking and baking.

Lots of schools have fish and chips. But even those standard cafeteria items are specially made at Yarmouth high school. For one thing, the French fries take two days to make. The potatoes are cut and soaked, boiled, cooled, spiced and then baked. And the fish is bought fresh from a local vendor. It’s also baked rather than fried.

“High heat to seal in the flavour,” says Papadogioragakis. “Any longer and it dries out.”

Papadogioragakis has a business degree from Acadia University and two master’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts.

The kind of food kids eat “affects not just behaviour, it affects learning if you don’t eat well and fill yourself with junk,” he said. “The challenge is making it good, healthy, tasty, everything from scratch, at a low price.”

This article was adapted, with permission, from a feature story by Bill Spurr in The Chronicle Herald. Read that original article here.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Papadogioragakis said that food “affects not just behaviour, it affects learning if you don’t eat well and fill yourself with junk.” What does he mean by this? How does food affect how we feel, think and behave? 

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
The school takes foods that are often unhealthy, such as fish and chips, and prepares them in a way that is nutritious and delicious.

What is your favourite unhealthy food? How could you change it so it would be better for you?

Primary, Junior and Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Language Feature: Adjectives
The journalist used adjectives in order to make food come to life. For example, instead of writing “carrot cake”, she said it was “moist carrot cake.” The banana bread was “fresh baked” and the subs were “homemade.”

What are some adjectives you could use to make the following food and drinks sound more delicious:
1. cookies
2. carrot sticks
3. milk
4. pizza
5. chicken fingers
6. strawberries
7. corn
8. melon
9. water
10. hamburger