Chief Sunrise Education Centre students were unable to access the school’s healthy food and breakfast program during containment and closure, but by the end of last week many were showing off their own delicacies as they cooked at home.
Principal Deborah Reid came up with the idea to provide recipes and ingredients for the JK to Grade 9 students on the Kátł’odeeche First Nation Reserve to keep them busy, engaged and useful in their own households.
She explained that the school has a responsibility to go beyond just providing academics for the kids and does regularly provide breakfast and snack programs during regular school time.
“For this week, I thought well, why don’t we do a healthy food challenge and I put together five recipes and ingredients for 33 families,” she said.
Approximately 65 kids took part and had all of the items dropped off at all of the homes on Monday.
“We said ‘Here is your box of food, here are your recipes. Let’s see if you can take them and make something of them.’”
The recipes were manageable for the youngest ages and were based on foods that kids were already familiar with including pizza buns, people figures made of raw vegetables, muffin tops, yogurt parfaits and eggs.
“I really wasn’t really sure what I would get but I’ve had a lot of parents sending me pictures of their kids in the kitchen and they are all really happy to have the extra food and everybody enjoys the pizza buns,” she said.
Reid said that the activity had multiple benefits including that kids and families are problem solving together, are contributing to the overall home food supply and are generally more comfortable around food and food-making.
“The idea was really if kids later go to the grocery store and see a green pepper or some celery they can think to themselves, ‘I know how to prepare these things or how cut up celery or make carrot sticks,’” she explained.
Students were expected to arrive back to regular class hours on Nov. 8 as the chief public health officer began easing restrictions.
Reid said students do come to rely on the school’s food offerings and anytime they are away from class she does worry about their access to plentiful, healthy food.
“It is a big concern and we even worry about the summer as well because that is a long period of time as are holidays,” she said. “So those periods of time are tough, but in this case, the time away was unexpected because it was a shutdown.”
The containment period meant each household could only have one person shopping for groceries and often families were lacking income due to the need to isolate.
“So I think that there’s definitely a burden on the family to support their kids when the supplements that the school can provide aren’t available,” she said.