Since the beginning of 2018, Students at SOUL have been enjoying the healthier options at the salad bar, along with new industrial food service equipment and the opportunity to learn how to prepare meals through their Culinary Arts class. This is all thanks to feedback from students and a grant ensuring SOUL has the resources to make food on-site.
“The Kitchen Equipment Assistance Grant has allowed the SOUL to improve nutritional quality, serve healthier meals, expand participation, improve energy efficiency and better meet the nutritional needs of our students,” said Mark Wilson, SOUL Principal.
School lunches at SOUL went from heavily processed foods to now onsite lunches, a salad bar offering and use of an organic garden as a part of SOUL’s farm-to-table curriculum. The salad bar with additional protein options was added upon students request for healthier options.
The students maintaining the salad bar are also in the Culinary Arts class, where they have an opportunity to gain their ServeSafe certification and prepare for careers in the food service industry.
“I wanted to learn how to cook and joined the class,” said Justin Alvarado, Culinary Arts student. “From there I was able to get my food handlers certificate and made a few recipes at my house.” The class teaches students the basics of cooking, food safety and nutritional value of food.
“Last semester was covering basic concepts, this semester is more creative,” said Alexandros Acedo, Culinary Arts teacher. “The goal is for students to be self-sufficient. They are able to cook, go to a supermarket and get what they need for a meal.”
With the class, students experienced making various cultural dishes, while learning how to choose healthier options at the grocery store. “We can look forward to them modelling the experience and getting local produce as opposed to processed foods,” said Acedo.
Students all have a book of recipes with meals and glossary terms they accumulated throughout the year. Many of them take the recipes home with them and create similar meals in their own kitchen.
“I already love to cook and most of the stuff we cook in our class, I’ve never cooked in my life,” said Qyerra Goree, Culinary Arts student. “We’ve learned how to make do with what you have. Maybe you don’t have a cup but by using teaspoons we know now how to measure.”
The culinary arts class not only has taught students how to prepare a meal but also how to work together towards a common goal. Throughout the cooking process, the class is encouraged to work in teams, giving students the opportunity to carry out tasks and commit to a responsibility. Students are much more motivated to do well during the cooking process and take pride in their own contribution.