Project Profile

Project Title:
Cooking for life
Imagineaction Social Action Projects
School Name:
Queen Elizabeth PS
School board / First Nations school jurisdiction:
Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Project Theme:
  • Thrive [health & wellness]
  • Care [poverty]
Grade Level:
Subject Areas:
Health and Physical Education
Community Partners:
We are partnering with Ottawa Public Health services. Christa Poirier, the School Age Program and the volunteer food advisor.

Cooking for life

A number of our grade 8 students come to school without lunch. Or they will bring packaged, convenient and less healthy choices. Our school is located in a low income community, and family members are not often equipped to help make better choices. To encourage our students to experience the wonderful taste of healthy food and understand the value of healthy home cooking we want to do a series of hot lunches. A local public health nurse will visit the classes. The students will then plan a menu, visit the local grocery store, purchase the necessary food and ingredients, cook the food and enjoy a healthy class lunch together. Funding will help the three grade 8 classes create menus that will be varied and tasty. The goal is to make this as low cost (or free) as possible so all members of the class can participate.

With the kids running and organizing the program they will take ownership and ensure the program is to their liking. Learning healthy shopping skills, cooking skills and menu planning will ensure they are capable of creating healthy food for years. Under the themes of Care and Thrive our healthy lunch program will engage the kids for the rest of the school year.

Update (May-04-11)

Wow, we are so excited to have this opportunity. Thank you so much for the subsidy.
The planning is complete and this week is the start of our grade eight healthy eating program.

Each of our three classes will start with a visit from the City of Ottawa Public Health Nurse. The lesson will cover designing healthy meals that taste great, what nutrients we need to stay healthy, and how to read labels in the store.
Day two will include a visit to the local Farm Boy and a tour of the store. While at the store the students will be responsible for purchasing all the ingredients of the meal they will prepare the next day.
Day three starts with a visit from the City of Ottawa Community Food Advisors who will demonstrate preparation of a healthy meal. The students will then break into groups and prepare three sections of a healthy meal – the main course, a salad and a dessert. Yum!

Thanks again for this really exciting opportunity!! Pictures will follow.

Update (August-05-11)

With our project completed during three weeks in May we saw a number of successes and firsts.

Each of our grade 8 classes had a visit from our public health nurse - Christa P. She visited the idea of healthy eating, label reading and value in food choices.

Christa provided some tools for the students to make healthy choices in their shopping and meal planning. We looked at Canada's food guide together and democratically came up with a menu for our class to prepare. The students were excited about the meal preparation, but the planning was a new adventure for some. As we prepared our shopping list the students had some interesting observations and questions.

“My mom always buys that, now I know what it is!”
“How can we make this a vegetarian option?”
“I'm allergic to dairy, can we still make a smoothie?”

Religious, cultural and personal concerns were discussed and honoured.

Our second day took us to the local Farm Boy, where the manager Mr. Blais took each class for a tour of the store. He introduced the students to the areas most consumers don't see and explained how the store works. We discussed the layout of the store and cost comparisons.

The students broke out into their teams and found the items needed to prepare their part of the meal. In groups they compared costs, looked at ingredients, debated about the nutritional values and discussed the labels of products.

Each group made wise choices and the smiles were enough to know they felt successful in this venture.

Day three started with a demonstration from our Community Food Advisers of the Ottawa Public Health Department. These 2 wonderful ladies demonstrated a progressive menu from one original recipe. Students learned how to transform a delicious tomato pasta sauce to a meat sauce, or chili, or nacho toppings, or a vegetarian pasta casserole...

Our demonstration included chopping tips, vegetable washing tips, maintaining a clean and healthy cooking environment, money saving shopping tips, smiles, good food and laughter. Students participated in the demonstration, asked questions, answered questions, and tasted three versions of the recipe.

After the demonstration, we broke into our three groups and started making our own meal. Picture three student groups cooking in three different areas of the school. Delicious smells, sounds of cooking together and laughter emanated down our school halls from three different directions.

Update (August-25-11)

Within an hour, we started to get visitors from all areas of the school...
“What is that smell?”
“Ooooo, can I be in your class today?”
“Grade 8's are so lucky! I can't wait to be in grade 8!”

Finally it was time to eat! As we wheeled our meal sections toward the class, the excitement and pride was bouncing with each students step. The other grade 8 classes were invited to taste our wonderful creation. After eating, the recess bell rang but no one left.

All three of our grade 8 classes participated in this three day program – so for three weeks we had menus, meal planning, label reading, and nutrition talk in the halls, lunch room, and classrooms.

We decided, about half way through, that this must be a regular part of our grade 8 programing.

As a final follow up one of the grade 8 teachers organized a parent celebration night. Each class prepared a part of the meal they were going to serve their parents. Parents, guardians and siblings sat together and enjoyed a healthy meal, prepared by the students. After the meal student work was showcased for the parents.

Again, thank you so much for making this opportunity a reality!

Update (August-23-12)

The 2010-2011 project was such a success at Queen Elizabeth that we repeated the project in 2011-2012. We followed a similar format. Once again, the students, volunteers, teachers and support staff demonstrated that healthy eating can bring together a community. Thank you so much for the opportunity to see this project come to life.