Grant opens nutritious doors

A Red Deer Catholic school will be french fries-free as of January, thanks to a new $25,000 grant announced on Friday. The money, which will be used to refurbish the school’s kitchen and serve up an all-new healthy menu next year, is a grant from Hellmann’s.

A Red Deer Catholic school will be french fries-free as of January, thanks to a new $25,000 grant announced on Friday.

The money, which will be used to refurbish the school’s kitchen and serve up an all-new healthy menu next year, is a grant from Hellmann’s.

The money is part of Hellmann’s Real Food Movement, which has given out more than $210,000 over the last two years to community projects across the country to help Canadians eat better.

École Camille J. Lerouge School, a Catholic French-immersion school, has a kitchen stocked with aging and “half-broken” appliances, said teacher Vanessa Darling. The grant will be used to purchase a new set of large commercial-grade appliances. Any money left over will be used to do general renovations like painting and refurbishing.

“That $25,000 is going to get gobbled up fast,” she said.

One appliance that won’t be getting replaced, however, is the deep fryer. As the new appliances arrive, Darling and a handful of other teachers will create a new, healthier menu. The aim is to give the students meals that are fresh, healthy and local, Darling said. On the chopping block will be fries, chicken nuggets and tacos in a bag.

The project was the brainchild of Darling, a self-described lifelong health nut. This is her second grant from the program, as she received $1,000 last year for her Taste Test Tuesday program, which introduced students to new food choices with a healthy snack one Tuesday a month. The snacks will hopefully be added to the new menu, she said.

As a teacher, Darling sees the impacts of students eating poorly.

“I realized that the food they eat affects how they learn. I felt that if we’re teaching kids to make healthy food choices in the classroom, the cafeteria should reflect that,” she says.

Eating well at school will hopefully change the way students think about food, she said. “Eating healthy doesn’t have to be gross.”