Applecross Senior High School (WA)
Cre Millar, canteen supervisor
Applecross SHS canteen caters for approx 300 students each day! We aim to provide in house meals as much as possible or when not practical as nutritious as possible from a reputable supplier.
While we are not responsible for the students' total nutrition for the day, we do feel that we have them for two meals at a crucial time of development. If we can influence their food choices and broaden their palates we can help them build a much healthier outlook towards food for their adult lives.
I developed the menu with this primarily in mind as well as considering affordability and profitability. If it is unaffordable or unsustainable it's a pointless exercise for everybody. I find that keeping a smaller menu and changing it often works much better for our canteen. We have a summer menu for Term 1 & 4, and a winter menu for Term 2 & 3 and make small changes to keep it interesting.
We have just introduced gozlemes to our students. The traditional lebanese bread method was not practical as it goes too hard in our warmers so we use tortillas as the outer wrapping, it has been a great success. Most students didn't even know what a gozleme was (nor did my ladies!) but as long as the flavour was good they didn't care. It's quite a novelty and, now that the students know what they are, they're proud to tell people. It is the same with our quesadillas, chimichangas and paninis!
School community links
As with every canteen, we are constantly on the hunt for volunteers so I have engaged a few strategies. We have found that being on the local community volunteer network (your local council can direct you to yours) has been brilliant! Many of the people we engage with have much more time on their hands than overstretched parents and can volunteer regularly. They are a fantastic resource and well worth the initial time of making a few calls.
I also put myself out there in the local paper with an article calling for volunteers, it was extremely helpful and lasted a lot longer than just the week the paper was out. People found us from that article for months afterwards. We had a few people just needing some experience for their resumes or needing an inexpensive way to get a Working With Children Check but even if they only come a handful of times, it all fills the roster!
It can also be good to include dads at an 'open day' event. I have had a few dads see that it’s not a 'females only' environment and sign up at those events.
Having a canteen stall at any school event is great. If its manned by happy smiling volunteers it can show that it’s not such a scary place and achieves much more than just putting regular notices in the newsletter asking for help.
Take home message
Any change is easier to instigate with POSITIVITY - people get on board a happy ship! Whether you want dietary change, more customers or just some help it is always more attractive to ask people to be a part of something that is fun.
Case study reproduced with permission from WA School Canteens Assocation.