Fruits, Veggies, and Food Literacy Galore! @ Catherine Nichols Gunn School
For the past three years, Crystal MacDonald has been heading up the Breakfast Club at Catherine Nichols Gunn (CNG) Elementary School in Calgary, AB. Kids from the community and other parts of the city are bussed to CNG and benefit largely from the Breakfast Club as an additional school support. Mrs. MacDonald’s breakfast set-up perfectly embodies the meaning of the term “well-oiled machine”. It is easy to see that she has got the system perfected and when her kids walk in each morning, they know exactly what to do. She offers a diverse menu with nutritious options every morning. They chat with each other while eating, build friendships with other kids from all grades, and respectfully help Mrs. MacDonald in serving and cleaning up their own breakfast.
Mrs. MacDonald was a bit skeptical when she first learned about Breakfast Club’s Monthly Nutrition Challenge that encourages our schools to incorporate a new fruit or vegetable into their menu. With limited time and equipment, it would undoubtedly be a stretch to cook more elaborate breakfast items! With some support from her school, Mrs. MacDonald got the tools she needed to become more adventurous with breakfast…and there was no turning back!
Each month, we have been thrilled to read about the stories, educational opportunities, and new recipes that have come up at CNG through the Nutrition Challenge! They have been finalists each month, and won the challenge twice! Fruits and veggies have included anything from zucchini to cranberries to dried fruit, and CNG has gotten extremely creative with each one. We have read stories about healthy spinach muffins, fruit compotes, and even raw veggies. The rule at CNG is that kids have to try the food just once…and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat anymore! Overall, this “rule” has been successful in getting the kids to try new foods, and oftentimes really enjoying foods they did not expect to! The fruit or veggie of the month, along with fun facts about nutrition and where the food comes from, are posted on the wall so that kids have an opportunity to learn WHY they are trying new things.
Mrs. MacDonald plans to make a cookbook at the end of the school year, which will capture all of her adventures in trying new fruits and veggies! We can’t wait to see it, and hear all about their future adventures! Kudos to CNG school for opening your minds, and bellies, to new types of food!