At Norra school in the town Vänersborg it goes without saying that food is important – to be enjoyed, to afford a calming break in the school day, to trade for new playground equipment…
Alex and Stefan in grade 5 are in charge of the fruit trolley today.
“We have a budget we’re working with in math. We put aside money from our profits for buying in more fruit to sell, and then put the rest aside for the school,” explains Stefan while he serves the next eager customer.
Integrating food and teaching comes naturally at Norra School in Vänersborg. The idea for a fruit trolley is as simple as it is ingenious, and came directly from the pupils. The pupils themselves made the trolley in their woodwork class. The school kitchen delivers the fruit and profit and loss are accounted to the rector through the math class. There’s a long and winding line at the popular fruit trolley – and no break for Alex and Stefan this morning. But they look very pleased all the same.
“Pupil input is so important to us,” says meals manager Anna-Karin Svensson. “When our local School Meals Academy group met recently, we talked about how pupils can evaluate school meals. We got the idea for smileys from one of the projects seminars and this is an easy and fun way to pick up pupils’ opinions. The pupils draw happy, indifferent or sad smileys according to how they liked the day’s meals.
Cajsa Sjöstad who is a teacher at nearby Brålanda school has tried this with good results. During a health-theme week pupils tried the smiley model. Cajsa then put together a summary of the week’s results and sent it to us at the central meals service. The answers confirmed that we are working in the right direction and the pupils feel involved, they think it’s fun to participate and to know their opinions count!”
The Vänerstrand Restaurant has a tempting menu today with fish gratin, rice and a colourful salad buffet. The pupils at Norra school voted for the name of their school dining hall and when it was opened sandwiches and cucumber boats with cheese sails made by the children from the intellectual disabilities class were served.
“ The pupils are very aware of what they are eating, ” says Berit Rylander, class teacher for 3A. ”We read through the menu together and talk about what’s on it. We teachers encourage the pupils to try everything, to at least try a small portion. You have try something several times to learn new tastes.”
Anton, Jonna, Martina, Merit and Nicolai like the food and the school dining hall.
“It’s fun to come here, the food’s good, always good,” says Nicolai.
“Berit is kind of a vegetable police,” says Anton and grins.
Berit enjoys sitting at the table to eat with her pupils.
“We have a lovely dining hall, quiet and peaceful, it’s good for us adults to talk to our pupils about other things than lessons, it’s more informal and relaxed sitting round a table and eating together.”
“When we had a schools’ fair and exhibition in the area, we focused on a display of school meals. For some time the school principal, Ewa Glennius, and her staff had been working with good eating habits as part of the school’s work on health, ” says Anna-Karin Svensson. “All the pupils take part according to their abilities. For instance the pupils from the intellectual disabilities class have been learning about the plate model and built three dimensional posters to decorate the dining hall. Working with the teaching staff is invaluable for us at meals service, they have such a close contact with the pupils. When we talk to them we can find out more about difficulties and possibilities.”
We ate at Vänerstrand Restaurant ourselves and of course we awarded a smiling smiley! The fish gratin was firm and juicy, the sauce tasty with herbs and garlic. The salads were brightly coloured in orange, yellow, green and lime. The rice was white and fluffy. The only problem was the food was so good we almost ate too much…
…and what do the pupils say?
Brålanda school pupils’ top dishes
• Meat loaf
• Pasta salad
• Vegetable soup
• Chicken and wedge potatoes