Advice from the On-the-Ground Experts at Deninu School, Northwest Territories
Oftentimes we hear that school breakfast coordinators want to introduce new, more nutritious foods to their menu, but they fear doing so because students are sometimes resistant to trying out new foods. That being said, there are ways around these obstacles, and we wanted to showcase a program who took on the challenge of introducing new, more nutritious foods in their program this year. The secret? Nutritious food can also be delicious food!
Meet Deninu School in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories. Here, an inspired volunteer wanted to teach students that unprocessed and lightly sweetened, unprocessed, home-made foods can taste just as good (or better) than overly salted and sweetened processed foods. Some of the new foods introduced were egg frittatas, home-made granola, whole-wheat baking and bannock, baked potato wedges, veggies with home-made dips, and pancakes with pureed, frozen vegetables added to them. The school admits that in the beginning, the students felt the new foods tasted funny and were not sweet enough, but in very little time, their taste buds seemed to adjust and the kids quickly began enjoying them – especially when they saw older students or their peers enjoying them! Believe it or not, the veggies and home-made dip are now a program favourite at Deninu School!
So you are probably hoping for some tips on how to go about doing this in your program. Well, go no further! We asked Deninu School to help us out here seeing as they are the pros in this area:
- Serve and cut new foods into smaller portions for students to try. This way they fit into small hands, are less intimidating, and help to reduce waste.
- Make the names more interesting. When Deninu School introduced whole wheat French toast, they creatively called it ‘Quebec Pancakes’ which peaked student interest.
- Puree fruits and vegetables and add them to things like baking, pancakes, smoothies etc. If access to fresh produce is hard to come by – use frozen as a second choice, and canned (packed in water, not syrup), or preserved as a last choice alternative to fresh fruits and veggies.
- Accept that there will be some “whining” to start! Some students will be difficult and will try to get you to go back to the old foods. Deninu School’s advice is “you have to be a little thick-skinned and stick to the program”. Stay strong!
- Do bend a bit – sometimes the school will put out maple syrup, but they are starting to notice that the students are not using it much anymore.
We hope this story has inspired you to spice things up in the kitchen and introduce more nutrition into your programs. As we know, nutritious foods help students to focus in school and achieve success in life. Teaching and showing students healthier alternatives to delicious foods will help them to maintain health for years to come.
As always, please reach out to your Club Coordinator if you are looking to implement more nutritious foods into your program but are not quite sure how to start. We are always thrilled to hear from you!