Thursday, April 17, 2008

Parkview visit

Tonight I had the pleasure of chatting with some parents and staff at Parkview School. I brought some news from the Board, including the establishment of the Cree Alternative program at Abbott School, the implementation of the healthy initiatives plan and an update on the work of the Ad Hoc Committee to review the school closure and sustainability process.
At Parkview, they are leading the way with banning junk food and selling healthy choices. Of their own volition, they have already made significant changes to their school store, including selling soups and sandwiches, granola bars, milk and fruit bars. We talked candidly about some of the challenges of changing the menu and I asked them what advice they would like to share with other schools who will follow in their footsteps over the next three years.
They offered the following:
1) go slowly. A radical change overnight will meet with great resistance.
2) talk to the kids about what they would like to see. There's no point in buying food you know is good for them but they hate.
3) expect a downturn in revenue for the first little while. But a rebound will come.
4) be willing to compromise. They sell lunch combos of soup/sandwich/granola bar and chips. They won't sell chips on their own....they can only be bought as part of a combo. So the kids get mostly healthy food (and then they also get chips!)
5) while you are tied to a vending machine contract, try to implement pricing that sees healthy choices being cheaper than non-healthy ones. The kids soon figure this and buy accordingly.
6) buy in small quantities until you figure out what sells well.
It was great to see the commitment and enthusiasm at this school.

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