Healthy food satisfies more than bellies
Supporting Island families -
As chef Bev Campbell pulls a shepherd’s pie from the oven at Queen Elizabeth Elementary School in Kensington, she explains why serving healthy, local food makes a difference in her students’ lives.
Made with love, the pie has vegetables sourced from local organic farmers. Queen Elizabeth Elementary is one Island school participating in a pilot project to increase the amount of fresh, local food offered to young Islanders.
“I think that it is very important to use as many local, organic ingredients in children's lunches so that they can learn that their food actually comes from land or sea, versus a can,” said the beloved lunch lady, who was recently recognized with the PEI Home and School Extra Mile Award.
“Using local ingredients cuts down on the environmental impact - less travel for our food, therefore our food is fresher, and doesn't have to sit on a truck for days at a time.”
The pilot project is part of the provincial government’s Community Food Security and Food Education Program. Launched last spring, the program helps Islanders access local food and teaches about its nutritional value, where it comes from, and how it is produced.
Karen Murchison of the Certified Organic Producers Co-op says healthy food has been shown to improve student health and learning.
“Kids get to eat fresh healthy nutritious food grown by neighbouring families - and farmers have another market for their product,” she said.
The co-op is using money from the community food security education fund of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to look at ways to reduce food insecurity and increase access to local foods.
Chef Campbell says Queen Elizabeth Elementary takes pride that all of its students’ bellies are full during school days. The school has breakfast and lunch programs as well as a well-stocked snack cupboard for those who need it.
“If anyone needs a lunch for whatever reason,” she said, “they will receive one.”