Muheim Elementary School in Smithers has had a Hot Lunch Program for many years. This year, a special effort was made to source the Hot Lunch food locally. This Spring, we offered two Local Food Hot Lunches: Chili made with fresh local beef, locally grown root vegetables like carrots, onions, garlic that had been stored over winter, and dried local herbs like oregano and basil. Our chili was served with locally made whole wheat buns and galettes made with frozen local raspberries.
We started by offering a local food cooking workshop to grade 6 students who helped prepare the vegetables, stir the chili as well as serve the meal. We highlighted the benefits of eating local food such as freshness, supporting the local economy, reducing emissions due to lower food miles as well as some of the inconveniences like the seasonality of produce. We talked about how to preserve food by dehydrating, canning, or freezing. Students got to meet the farmers and producers who delivered the ingredients right to the school kitchen–this was a highlight!
Our special Local Food Hot Lunch had the advantage of feeding more students and teachers healthy locally grown and produced food while also educating students and teachers about where the food served at the school was grown and produced. This helped increase our community’s local food intake! We are hoping that these first local food hot lunches will help create a sustainable, on-going program of including local food in our school’s Breakfast and Hot Lunch programs into the future. We want to make local normal!
Photos by Helene Fleury, Smithers