Term three is soup time for local schools
IT’S definitely been the season for soup - steaming bowls of nutritional goodness to ward off the winter blues and provide that much needed boost of vitamins to keep any lurgies at bay.
Lucy Marks, part of the health promotion team at the Mansfield District Hospital, is facilitating the Mansfield Respond Project of which the Soup for Schools Project is the latest initiative.
Having successfully delivered the Mansfield Summer Series and created the Mansfield Resilience Project, as well as overseeing the Mansfield Fresh Food Drive and preparing to officially launch the Active Footpaths Project, soup is now on the agenda.
“An overall goal of the Mansfield Respond Project is to promote an increase in vegetable consumption among local children, and from this the Soup for Schools Project was born,” Lucy said.
“Soup is such a great vessel to expose children to lots of different vegies, and it’s really exciting to be finally rolling the project out.
“It was April or May of last year that the plan was formulated, and the project had initially been scheduled for term three in 2020, but of course that is when lockdown and home-schooling really kicked in.
“So we’ve had to wait until now to launch the initiative.”
On each Thursday in term three, middle school students from the Mansfield Secondary College prepare the soup in their Food Technology class, in among completing tasks required under the curriculum.
“It’s the same class each week, and they make between
50 and 70 serves of soup depending on demand,” said teacher Andy Kappes.
“I’ll designate some students to chop the vegetables, and as everybody goes past the soup they give it a bit of a stir, and between us all we have it ready to go for lunch.
“It just simmers away imparting all its goodness into the broth, and soup is quite enjoyable to make as you just keep chucking things into the pot.
“And at the end of class, students are quite proud
that they have made this delicious vat of soup, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The soup is then distributed to local schools on a rotating roster, with the Mansfield Secondary College being the lucky recipients of the first round of soup, which was pumpkin.
Merrijig Primary was the next school, with the Mansfield Kindergarten, St Mary’s and Mansfield Primary all on the roster.
The soups are also rotated
to introduce students to a variety of flavours and vegetables, so as well as pumpkin soup, minestrone, beef and vegetable, and chicken and corn are all on the menu.
“Students are given a recipe card for the soup they’ve received and they are encouraged to go home and re-create the meal with their family and friends,” said Lucy.
“All the students at Merrijig Primary enjoyed a cup of soup, however, due to the size of the other schools we are rolling out the initiative
to a couple of year groups each time.
“And with ongoing lockdowns, the project is still in its trial phase with plans to continue the initiative every year in term three.”
With a grant from the Mansfield Shire Council enabling the project to go ahead, money is put towards purchasing produce locally, with the pumpkin soup actually made from donated pumpkins grown by local residents and a teacher with a green thumb at the secondary college.
“It is all about uniting community and working together, which is an integral part of the Mansfield Respond Project,” said Lucy.
“It’s been really great to have the secondary students come on board with it all.”
Andy laughs that it’s a bit of mandatory voluntary work, however, she acknowledges that the students are enjoying doing their bit for the community.
“Volunteering is a wonderful thing,” Andy said.
“And the positive feedback is further affirmation.
“I’ve had students come up to me in a supermarket and say how delicious the soup was that they received.
“I always tell them that the credit lies with my students.
“They were the ones who cooked it.”
Andrea Cousins from the Merrijig Primary School confirmed that the students really enjoyed the soup.
And though it was a bit nerve racking transporting two kettles full of pumpkin soup to the school, it was completely worth it as the students thoroughly appreciated the effort.
“It made them all feel incredibly special that the high school had thought about the school and made the students this beautiful meal,” said Andrea.
“As Merrijig is a bit removed, it was lovely to feel included and to create this connection through food.
“And as we all went into lockdown again that evening, it was a nice way to go out sharing a meal together.”
And there’s nothing more nurturing than a bowl of steaming soup made with love, to unite a classroom, a school and even a community.