Our healthy and sustainable lunch orders got off to a flying start last Friday! It was an exciting morning. This is the first time our school has run a regular school canteen, so there was a nice buzz about the grounds as kids and parents came to order before the day began. All through the week we had been very clear with the kids that they had to give in their money and order before morning lines and most kids did exactly the right thing. One parent told me that her kids woke up and bounced out of bed shouting “It’s canteen day mum – I need to get myorder in before assembly!”
Our first school canteen menu item was Lovely Lebanese Bread Wraps. We had lots of parent volunteers on hand ready to chop up the ingredients and start rolling them. I had no idea how many kids would order. I arranged ingredients for 100 wraps but in the end needed half that. We had 44 orders in total – which considering the size of our school was about what my previous experience told me to expect.
One exciting element of our new school canteen is that we are not working against an existing culture of a junk food canteen. We are starting something new and developing a new food culture. We call ourselves a “Healthy Choices” school canteen because we only offer healthy options. If kids want to buy from the canteen they choose between two options that are equally good for them – and equally delicious. We want to support everything that is in the NSW School curriculum about healthy eating and sustainability. This means that not only are we packing out every item with vegetables, but we are also using recyclable packaging where possible and really thinking through the ethics of each decision we make when sourcing food.
If you are interested in starting a school canteen from scratch, here are some of the lessons we learned on Friday:
- A full Lebanese Bread Wrap is very filling especially for kindy kids – consider selling half portions.
- If you are unsure of demand, it may be easier (and less stressful) to choose a one-pot meal for your first lunch order. We decided not to do this because we wanted to offer cooler lunches in summer.
- Don’t shy away from putting vegetables in! Several parents weren’t expecting kids to eat a wrap with salad in it and they were proved wrong (including me!). The collective power of kids eating a shared meal together helped some of them overcome their squeamishness towards green things. (That’s a nice way to say peer pressure made them do it!)
Lovely Lebanese Bread Wraps
Our first school canteen had great feedback about the deliciousness of our food. Here is the recipe:
1 Wholemeal flatbread wrap (fresh from the bakery if possible – it makes them easier to roll)
Approximately 30g baby spinach leaves
Approximately 50g grated carrot
Approximately 50g sliced tomato
Approximately 50g sliced cucumber
EITHER 50g sliced ham
OR 70g grated cheese
Place ingredients inside bread and roll. Roll baking paper around wrap. Cut in half. Place in order bag.