On Friday 20 May 2016 some 200 students and their parents enjoyed a healthy lunch with regional products and sustainable cutlery at pre-VET school Nordwin College high up in the North of The Netherlands in the town of Heerenveen. The students received one clear assignment from their teacher Rienk Boscha: organize a healthy lunch with regional products in our school canteen. That’s all. How and what, that’s up to you!
Pre-VET school Nordwin College already has the certificate Healthy School Canteen issued by the Dutch NGO Food Centre. The application for 2016 is also on their way. At Nordwin it was quite easy to obtain the certificate. The school has ‘green’ courses like Healthy Food, Animal Husbandry, Green Technique and Flower Arrangements. It is clear that these courses attract students already with a ‘green’ mindset. Also students told us that they were influenced by their parents regarding the choice of the school and a healthy lifestyle. Parents often have ‘green’ businesses too.
You can recognize the green and healthy canteen at Nordwin on features as a candy machine that does not serve candy but gran cookies with cereals. Also there is a water machine with free, healthy, tasty and thirst-quenching water. There is fresh soup and healthy rolls. The toasted bread always has one side white and one side brown. Although it (still) is available at the school canteen, students told us that there is no need at this school to be ‘cool’ by drinking soda and eating pizza or chips. The canteen looks good and invites you to stay during the school breaks. Also the school stimulates the students with lessons and projects.
According to the students success factors are: a small school were everybody knows each other and were peer pressure is low, practical education with cooking lessons and the availability of tasty food which is not more expensive than ‘normal’ or ‘bad’ food. Also every change on policy regarding healthy school canteens has been discussed in advance with the students themselves via their Student Council. And last but not least…concerned and inspired teachers and (canteen) staff like Rienk Boscha, Folkert Hofman and Bert Sietsma who are able to give room for experiments and are not afraid of losing revenues because students eventually don’t want to buy the healthy stuff.
What did the students serve for their parents in their school canteen according to the assignment to make a biological lunch from regional products? There was meat and ice-cream from water buffalo’s from regional producer Waterbuffelfarm Oldemarkt ( 100% free of antibiotics) and vegetables and fruits from the regional producer Nature garden ‘t Hummelhus. At the regional farmers organization De Streekboer you can order your food and fetch it at a collection point.
That means less packing material and less transport. The cutlery was made of wood and palm leaves instead of plastic. After use it will be cleaned with eco labeled detergent and can be recycled easily. The left overs are mostly being fed to the animals at school from the course animal husbandry. You could also donate to Edukans, a NGO who send out Dutch teachers to developing countries during their holidays to help and work together with local teachers out there.
So in conclusion… the regional Multiplier Event at Heereveen from the Community of Practice Friesland was 100% successful and 100% sustainable! We tasted biological, healthy and regional food. We did not waste anything because we ate with recycled cutlery and the left overs were fed to the animals. There was concern for teachers in less developed countries.
And … everything was conceived and organized by the students themselves. For sure, the parents were really proud!
P. van der Baan, May 2016