From roast vegetable salads to fresh fruit cups, the menu at Coonabarabran Public School’s canteen has been given a nutritious makeover, bringing it into line with new department requirements.
The changes have been instigated by new canteen manager, Tric Knight, who took over the helm from Chris Coe, who had run the canteen for over 20 years.
“I came on at the beginning of the year to fill in for Chris as she went on long-service leave - it continued from there because Chris decided to retire,” Mrs Knight said.
“In that time, the canteen committee took the opportunity to start heading towards the new Healthy School Canteen Strategy guidelines.
“Chris had made great inroads with some of the things she had done, but I guess the transition was made somewhat easier with a new manager and new menu.”
All meals sold in the canteen are now made on- site, from scratch.
Mrs Knight said the menu could essentially be described as “home-style” cooking.
“There’s almost nil- processed food - we make our own sandwich chicken from whole chicken breasts, hamburger patties and even garlic butter for garlic bread,” she said.
“Most of the menu is meal-based and although we still do sandwiches, I’ve found that the kids would rather a meal.
“I love cooking and engaging with the kids, and sharing that whole food experience.”
While a regular menu operates during the week, there are specials on Tuesdays (curry day) and Thursdays (taste of the orient), as well as gluten free options.
Drinks are limited to water, 100 per cent juice, chocolate milk and plain milk, and there are more nutritious snack options such as fruit, popcorn, crackers and cheese, in lieu of chips and lollies.
With overwhelming support from staff (so much so that some staff order their evening meals from the canteen), Mrs Knight said there had been some initial resistance from students, especially with lunch options.
“Because the menu was quite varied, if they didn’t want to go for one of the options, they had plenty of others to choose from, including toasted sandwiches to meat sandwiches.
“We often have taste tests, which the kids are keen on.
“They might not want to eat curry, but they can sample a little in a small container and they might order it next time.”
Mrs Knight praised regular volunteers Debbie Mukhar, Liz Welsh and Annie Beard for helping ensure the healthy menu got off the ground.
“Our volunteers have been terrific, but we’re always after more - even if it’s for an hour.”
A directive of the NSW Department of Education requires all NSW public schools to transition to the Healthy School Canteen Strategy by the end of 2019 or face closure.
Mrs Knight said the Coonabarabran Public School canteen was well on its way to meeting the new guidelines.
“The school has a responsibility to the community and parents want to know that their children are getting good food.
“We’re pretty well there now - we should most definitely meet the criteria by 2018.”
Facilitated by the Coonabarabran Public School Parents and Citizens Association, all profits from the canteen are directed back into the school.
Canteen manager, Tric Knight has devised a new, healthy menu for staff and students at Coonabarabran Primary School.