Chanting “bye, bye deep fryer,” students at Camille J. Lerouge School said farewell to unhealthy food choices as a monster truck drove over the deep fryer on Monday morning on the school playground.
The demise of the deep fryer marked the official beginning of a new menu and a new kitchen at the pre-kindergarten to Grade 9 school in the Waskasoo neighbourhood of Red Deer.
The school used the $25,000 Real Food Grant from Hellmann’s Canada to replace its 40-year-old stove, its 50-year-old refrigerator and to purchase a dishwasher, a drink cooler and an industrial blender.
A revamped and nutritious menu was inspired by celebrity chef and Hellmann’s real food ambassador Chuck Hughes, who participated in the official launch.
“The bottom line is what you put in your body is so important,” said Hughes. “To get these kids at a young age interested and excited about food is really why I am here. My real message is to get Canadian families and kids to eat real food. … If I can inspire kids and families across Canada to cook real food and get involved, then I have done by job.”
Hughes’ stamp is on the menu with baked chicken fingers instead of the old deep-fried ones and a new vegetarian sandwich on whole grain bread with avocado, tomatoes, low-fat cheese, lettuce and roasted red pepper.
In the last five years, the school eliminated pop, decreased the junk in the vending machines at the school and encouraged healthy snacks.
“It was less than ideal with deep-fried foods,” said Shannon Saringo, a Grade 2 teacher on the school’s Real Food committee.
“Our previous service provider was great but just relied on quick-to-make meals that as a parent you don’t want your kids eating on a regular basis.”
Students seem to like the new menu, too, said Yvette LaGrange, a Grade 9 student, who gave the student’s perspective on the school committee.
“At first they were intimidated and they very much didn’t like this change because real food is so stereotyped,” said LaGrange. “Most students are actually getting used to it and they actually like it now that they see food is not just something that has to be deep fried or has to be cooked in grease to taste good.”
To find out more about the Real Food Grant, visit www.realfoodmovement.ca.