School Lunches and Stinger Ranch Dressing
Jenny Osburn | The Union Street Cafe Cookbook | jennyosburn.com
Jenny Osburn ran a restaurant, wrote a couple cookbooks, and thinks that everyone deserves good food. Join the Facebook group Better School Food Annapolis Valley and let’s figure out how to make it happen!
It’s June and the school year is winding down, but a school food project at Berwick School is just getting started! I’ve been popping in to lend a hand for just one week and I’ve already learned so much from this somewhat daunting but exciting project.
For one thing, kids LIKE vegetables! Even though at home I sometimes struggle to get my kids to try new things, it seems as if the school setting is the perfect place to be adventurous. I was amazed at plates piled high with lettuce, carrots, broccoli, and pea shoots. I wonder how often we as parents assume that our children won’t like something and don’t even encourage them to try it. School could provide the perfect opportunity to teach our kids about healthy food and where it comes from.
I’ve been talking with a number of parents over the last few months about school lunches, and most agree that packing lunches is a real drag. Not only are the packaged foods that are designed to make the task easier for us expensive (the average packed lunch costs nearly the same as a school-made lunch), they are largely devoid of the nutrients kids need to make the most of their school day.
The challenges in serving delicious, nutritious, more locally-sourced food in school cafeterias are numerous, but perhaps the biggest factor is that our cafeterias are expected to turn a profit.
This pressure doesn’t lend itself well to serving high quality, healthy food. Your school kitchen may be one of the many that simply doesn’t. However, in the Annapolis Valley there are many examples of schools doing just that, by patching together funding, engaging parents and children, and relying on passionate volunteers and administration. These programs are fantastic, but we need a sustainable approach that works at all our schools. What can we do?
We need to speak. Form a nutrition committee for your school with other interested parents. Tell your school administration, and the newly-named Annapolis Valley Regional Education Centre, that you want school food that meets nutrition standards, sources locally, offers good value, and tastes delicious. If your school cafeteria serves good food, celebrate and order as often as you can. Even more importantly, let your government officials know that school food is a priority and needs funding. Canada is the ONLY industrialized country that doesn’t have a national lunch program! It’s time for this to change. Our children’s future health, happiness, and good taste depend on it.
Stinger Ranch Dressing
This dressing is a huge hit at the Berwick School Salad Bar! Try serving a bowl of it as a dip with raw veggies the next time your kids are ravenously circling the kitchen.
1⁄2 C yogurt or sour cream
1⁄2 C mayonnaise
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 green onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1⁄2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or lemon juice
1⁄4 tsp salt
To make the ranch dip, stir all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. You can also pulse everything together in the food processor. Refrigerate until needed for up to one week.
Photo Credit: Jane Veinot-During