Pro­vid­ing healthy choices for kids

Af­ter pi­lot year, project look­ing to ex­pand to 23 schools

South Shore Breaker - - Front Page - JOSH HEALEY

“You got my son to eat salad. What can I do for you?” said one par­ent dur­ing a Sun­day evening phone call.

An­other par­ent stopped in the gro­cery store to say the project had changed their fam­ily meals for the bet­ter.

These con­ver­sa­tions, said co-or­di­na­tors Rosie Gair and Claire-louise Os­mond, have been com­mon­place since the South Shore School Food Project was in­tro­duced.

“It’s why we’re do­ing the work,” said Gair. “It’s those (mo­ments) that re­ally keep you mo­ti­vated.” The South Shore School Food Project, which was pi­loted in five schools dur­ing the 2017-18 aca­demic year, is fo­cused on both Remembrance Day is a day like no other. This day sig­ni­fies a time when com­mu­ni­ties near and far come to­gether to re­mem­ber those who fought, died or are still de­fend­ing our hon­our to en­sure we have a place to freely call home. In this edi­tion of the South Shore Breaker, be sure to check out our Remembrance Day fea­ture from pages 19 to 21.

build­ing healthy menus and chang­ing food cul­ture in schools.

The model pri­or­i­tizes nur­tur­ing life­long healthy habits for children while pri­or­i­tiz­ing eat­ing lo­cal.

“When we talk about lo­cal farm­ers and pro­duc­ers, we’re not talk­ing about a small catch­ment area. We’re talk­ing about Nova Sco­tia farm­ers and pro­duc­ers,” said Os­mond.

The model, said Gair, is scal­able for the rest of the prov­ince.

“In or­der to do that, we have to or­ga­nize re­sources that will fit those schools. We have to build the re­sources for menus, recipes,” she said, adding that the short­term goal is to ex­pand to the 23 schools along the South Shore.

Os­mond said the project has worked on es­tab­lish­ing re­la­tion­ships with lo­cal pro­duc­ers.

This in­cludes or­ga­niz­ing the pur­chase and de­liv­ery of prod­ucts to schools.

And ac­cord­ing to Os­mond, the re­sults speak for them­selves.

“We know that when children are well fed, they show up well in the class­room,” she said. “We’re grow­ing the mar­ket of healthy eaters.”

But at this time, the project is still work­ing on cre­at­ing re­la­tion­ships through­out the re­gion to fund work.

When asked if the project is cur­rently seek­ing fund­ing from the gov­ern­ment, Os­mond re­sponded that they are ex­plor­ing sev­eral op­tions.

The project an­nounced on Thursday, Oct. 11 a fund­ing part­ner­ship with Food Nova Sco­tia.

The South Shore School Food Project has been work­ing in part­ner­ship with the Nova Sco­tia Health Au­thor­ity (NSHA) and the South Shore Re­gional Cen­tre for Ed­u­ca­tion since the idea for a pro­gram was dis­cussed in 2016.

Shel­ley Mo­ran, a pub­lic health nu­tri­tion­ist with the NSHA, said the project wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble with­out col­lab­o­ra­tion.

“I think that the part­ner­ship piece is key,” said Mo­ran, whose job en­tails as­sess­ing food prac­tices in schools.

The 2016 as­sess­ment in­di­cated peo­ple were ready for change.

“We needed a new model that was more eq­ui­table,” she said.

Sev­eral other lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions have also made do­na­tions.

And thanks to the fund­ing, the project has been able to ex­pand to things like Cook­house Kids in­ter­ac­tive food ed­u­ca­tion, salad bars and build-your-own-lunch pro- grams.

Gair noted these pro­grams help to ex­pand the kids un­der­stand­ing of food.

“The salad bar is a very easy place to pro­vide kids with the learn­ing tools to talk about lo­cal. We talk about sea­son­al­ity, we talk about farm­ers. It re­ally pro­vides choice for children,” she said.

The feed­back has been highly pos­i­tive.

“There is a de­mand and the kids are com­ing back. The kids are re­ally en­joy­ing the process,” said Gair.

Os­mond added that the tenets of the pro­gram — healthy menus, food ed­u­ca­tion and eat­ing lo­cal — all add up to make an im­pact in the class­room.

“Good food can re­sult in a to­tally dif­fer­ent class­room ex­pe­ri­ences for those children, their peers and their teach­ers. It’s about cre­at­ing eq­uity,” she said.

“We of­fer ed­u­ca­tion to our kids here in Nova Sco­tia. Well, the way we’re go­ing to of­fer it more eq­ui­tably is to make sure children are well nour­ished in a school en­vi­ron­ment.”

South Shore School Food Project

The South Shore School Food Project, which was pi­loted in five schools last year, is try­ing to change food cul­ture in schools.

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