The core of Chef Tony Geraci's approach to school food is an unshakable belief in the power of students.
The power of students to talk about food. To understand food. To come up with plans for better food.
The power of students to read and understand labels. To know what whole grains are. To wonder why the apples they drive by on the way to school aren't the apples they're served in the cafeteria.
In his travels to Prince Edward Island schools this week, that's the message Tony's been delivering to students: you have the power to change school food.
So far Tony's visited Kinkora Regional High School, where he talked to a group of engaged students about how they're growing food on school property, and cooking it up to serve to their peers.
He visited Queen Elizabeth Elementary School, where he talked to students and to Chef Bev Campbell, who's already preparing healthy local school lunches for the school.
He visited the Murphy Community Centre After School program, where he engaged with kids from a variety of Charlottetown schools, talking to them about food, and what they eat and what they like, and what healthy food looks like.
This morning Tony visited East Wiltshire Intermedia School: when he asked the students how many of them had families involved in food — growing, processing, cooking, serving — almost every hand shot up.
And this afternoon he visited St. Jean Elementary School where he spoke with grade 5 and 6 students about what a healthy plate looks like — 60% fruits and vegetables, 20% whole grain, 20% protein — and heard about their ideas for incorporating family recipes into school menus.
When Tony asked St. Jean students if they had a school garden, they answered “no.” When he asked them if they wanted a school garden, a rousing chorus of “YES!!” arose.
Tony's faith in students was rewarded in spades: he heart heartfelt, intelligent, creative responses at every school he visited.
Tony's journey continues tomorrow with visits to Colonel Gray Senior High School, Birchwood Intermediate and Montague Intermediate schools.
Posted by Peter Rukavina on Tuesday, October 25, 2016.