As you know, I teach school. I have taught school for…hmmm, well, this is my twenty-ninth year of teaching school. I am a consummate learner, and a passionate teacher. Last year was the first year I taught “Foods” (cooking and baking) in my career. I am an Early Childhood Specialist, an English specialist, and a Fine Art specialist. I have acquired many other skills through my long career, but these are the ones my university transcripts verify. I have taught Kindergarten to grade three, grades three to six, everything at the middle school level, including physical education, but particularly English. I have taught high school English and Social Studies at the 10, 20 and 30 levels for more than a few years, but I am back with our middle school aged students. These are the students I love. Well, I love them all, but these are the ones that are “in-be-tween”. They are passionate, and impressionable, and so capable.
What a miracle to now be able to teach the lost art of preparing nutritious, delicious food toÂ these students. But there were more. More who wanted to cook who couldn’t fit it into their schedule. What to do? Hmmm… what about a Catering Club? Let’s do it! What will we do with what we make? Double “hmmm….”. Let’s sell it to the school body so that everyone can enjoy at least one hot nutritious lunch a week.
What did we have to do? GetÂ “Food Handling” certification from the Alberta Health Services. And that I did. We are the first school in Edmonton Public Schools to acquire this certification and this enables my catering club students to prepare food to sell to our student body. Not all food. I have to abide by what I am able to do under the conditions of the license, but this isÂ not difficult.
Every Tuesday and every Wednesday after school from 3pm to 4:30 pm I have many students who come to participate in Catering Club. Many students. Many of the same students, always some new students; sometimes a little brother or sister from a nearby elementary school. Sometimes older students who came to catering club last year pop in to cook with us for an evening. It is all about reviving the lost art of cooking to nourish one’s body and family. We make everything from scratch, I teach as we work and play, and I always buy the processed equivalent for us to taste and compare to what we made. We compare it in all ways: taste, nutritive value, and cost.
We are making a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner this Friday. Tonight we made 14 pumpkin pies. It was easy, so rewarding, and so much fun. Tomorrow, the students are coming for lunch so that they can have a piece of their lovely, gently spiced harvest pumpkin pie. After school, we will prepare the vegetable for the mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and the turkey dressing. The students will learn how to make gravy. Every week it is an adventure. These students are passionate about creating food for their bodies that is so delicious and so nutritious. Such a sense of accomplishment can be derived few other places. There are few such labours of love.
We were so excited when we found out that CTV was visiting us! The students did an exceptional job presenting themselves. The program is going and growing strong. We are making a difference. And “three cheers” for our first PRESS!
Now, we are working at acquiring some catering work outside of our school. We shall see where that takes us!