A proposal that aims to address the nutrition needs of students, teach valuable nutrition skills and incorporate a variety of groups within the school has earned Marion M. Graham Collegiate a $10,000 award as part of the Mosaic Extreme School Makeover Challenge.
The funds will be used for a community nutrition project that will include a lunch and snack program as well as the development of a communal space for growing, preparing and distributing food.
"Many of our students arrive without breakfast and with no means to purchase lunch. Currently our administration spends approximately $300 a month to support student nutrition, and this sum recognizes only the students who are willing to ask for assistance," said the application compiled by the team of Principal Doug Njaa, Vice-Principal Karen Peterson and staff members Donna Bouchard, Geri Stolar and Shannon Welch.
"Although we have a school servery we do have a population of students who, for a variety of reasons, are going hungry each day. We want to provide students with the opportunity to enjoy a nutritious lunch or snack without feeling singled out or stigmatized."
The school also hosts a Pizza and Cree group, which brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to eat lunch and learn Cree language and cultural teachings. It has developed into a strong community of participants, both students and teachers. However, the cost associated with purchasing pizza makes it unsustainable over the long term.
The makeover challenge, sponsored by Mosaic Co. in conjunction with the Saskatchewan School Boards Association, encourages grassroots initiatives to promote student nutrition and healthier school environments through nutrition-related activities and programming.
The goal at Marion Graham is to create a community room as part of an expanded Falcon's Nest and a student friendly area for growing, preparing, storing, and distributing nutritional food to students. Funds from the grant will allow for the purchase of equipment including a dishwasher, refrigerator and freezer. The addition of a tower garden will allow students to grow some components of the meals and snacks that will be available.
Operation of the nutrition project will provide students in the Functional Life Skills program with experience and a learning opportunity in the areas of shopping and food preparation. Thirty students would receive Food Safe Certification as part of the nutrition project.
The project is designed to create a space where nutritious food is the heart of the school community and where students and teachers are involved in its production and preparation, while strengthening the school's culture and providing a model of healthy nutrition.
The project is a step in the school's commitment to address the needs of its changing community.
"Sharing food plays a significant role in building a sense of community and belonging. Students will benefit from seeing how to make and consume healthy food as an overall health and wellness strategy for themselves. As well, the makeover, in its support of an Indigenous language and culture program, promotes healthy identity and self-esteem through connection and culture," the grant application reads.
"Our vision is not only to provide nutritious food options for our students, but also to create opportunities to integrate students into the implementation and management of this program. Ultimately, we hope to create a healthy and inclusive community of learners who collaborate and work together to support each other in and out of the classroom."