The menu at Pear Tree comprises of a hot lunch, as well as morning and afternoon snacks – all cooked in-house from scratch. Pear Tree’s chef changes the menu monthly, according to seasonal ingredients; and, while it includes variety, it still gives the kids enough opportunity to try the same things multiple times so that they can see if they truly like or dislike something.
“The majority of our food is vegetarian because when kids are young, they don’t need to be eating enormous amounts of protein or meat; they need to be eating a lot of vegetables, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, which contain the nutrition they need.”
Gaby Weisbom, a holistic nutritionist from Vancouver, says that good nutrition plays an enormous role in aiding kids to reach their full potential during the school day.
“As adults, I’m sure we can all relate to how nutrition plays a big role in our energy levels; and so, of course, it’s going to be the same for kids. Good nutrition is so important to our energy levels and overall wellness. It helps us stay focused, motivated and energized. On the flip side, if we eat the wrong foods, it can bring our energy levels down, leaving us feeling lazy, lethargic and overly emotional or irrational.”
Weisbom says that even if your kids don’t attend a school like Pear Tree Elementary, where a mandatory healthy lunch program is implemented, there are still things that you can do to make sure your family eats well. “I think it’s a misconception that ‘easy meals’ or snacks mean unhealthy, processed foods. You can have super-healthy nutritious meals just by eating whole foods. It’s just wrapping your head around the idea of what foods are fast, nutritious and easy all at the same time.”
She says that simple tweaks, such as planning meals ahead of time, or prepping fruits and veggies in advance to make sure that they are readily available, is a good place to start.
She also says that getting kids involved in preparing meals and getting them to read labels helps them feel empowered – a philosophy that Pear Tree Elementary also firmly believes in.
In addition to the healthy hot lunch program, the kids at the school also learn to cook. Romani says cooking and taking care of your body are not only important life skills, but are also a great way to teach kids maths (things like fractions, weights, and measurements in recipes), as well as science and art.