When we became a K-12 school last year, the elementary students settled in to their new classrooms and routines so quickly that we were surprised by how smooth the transition was. The elementary students quickly claimed their space, while the high school students felt that “the little kids” had encroached upon their territory. We wanted to find ways to protect their individual spaces and identities but bring them together for common, family-style activities, as our main priority as a school was to become a learning community.
Where we live, that means sharing food! And the breakfast program was the component that focused our work each day. Our program coordinator offered a healthy breakfast each morning, saving a few special treats for some of the older kids who were the last off the buses. As the parents of the elementary school students were able to let go of their concerns about teenagers, so too did the high school students see that they still held a privileged place in our school community, and their tolerance for the younger students grew.
This year, we continued that program and deepened our work, teaching students about the importance of nutritious food throughout the day, and beginning with a healthy breakfast, supported by local food producers. We have extended the breakfast and lunch programs in the school, while still using traditional celebrations to bring our kids together with healthy meals. This year, for example, our Christmas luncheon was a whole school event, as each high school student picked up an elementary student from his/her classroom, bringing the child to the cafeteria to share a meal based on local harvest – with vegetables from the farm next to our school and donations from the community, who shared dried fish, moose sausage, and salmon soup.
One of our biggest supporters has been Paulos Farms in Spences Bridge. This small, family-owned operation, where two of our students live and farm, has been such a generous donor to our school. Each fall, a truckload of grapes, squash, and apples shows up at the school – they are so generous with the fruit of their hard labour. We have been so grateful for the food they provide to the school. And other community members have supported our commitment to providing breakfast for at least 50 kids a day, with local business owners offering sizeable donations to help the program be sustainable. We are also extremely grateful for our Community Links funding, which helps the weekly shopping list of milk, yoghurt, and fruit, sprinkled with the occasional pancake or scrambled eggs.
The Farm to School program has helped us to start off on the right foot every day. We are so grateful for the donation to our school community. Thank you!