A $10,000 grant will allow a Comox Valley elementary school to expand its ever-growing salad bar lunch program for K-7 students.
Huband Park Elementary School received the grant this year from Farm To School BC.
The salad bar program started in 2013 and takes place every Tuesday. The program begins in mid- to late September and runs throughout the school year.
“It’s a program that enables the kids at Huband to get a healthy salad lunch once a week, which is facilitated by parent volunteers,” said Arzeena Hamir, a local farmer and one of the parents involved with organizing the program.
“Wherever possible, we serve locally grown produce. Especially in the spring and late summer, at least 60 per cent of the salad bar comes from local farms.”
According to Hamir, the program has expanded from serving roughly 50 kids per week in its first year to now serving more than 180 kids per week — roughly half the school’s population.
She said the grant will allow the school to purchase new equipment, as well as offer more educational opportunities.
The program previously received a similar grant from the provincial government in 2013 to buy equipment and start off the initiative.
“The funds will be used to purchase equipment and bring more educational tools into classrooms, so kids can learn more about where their food comes from, meet farmers and learn more about the food system,” she said.
The salad bar features a selection of fresh greens, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and sweet peppers, as well as sauces and heartier salad toppings like chickpeas.
The lunches also include at least two proteins and a carbohydrate.
While Huband Elementary was the first school in the Comox Valley to offer a salad bar lunch program, a few others in School District 71 have followed suit, including Ecole Robb Road and Lake Trail Middle School.
“It’s been a great program in a couple of ways,” said school principal Charles Schilling. “We’re obviously feeding kids. Part of it is for kids to learn about food — where it comes from, serving sizes, etc. As well, there’s the support we give to kids in terms of promoting healthy food.”