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New stoves add to school food program efficiency

Houston Secondary and Twain Sullivan students benefit

Two ovens purchased last year with the help of a grant from the Bulkley Valley Community Foundation and installed in the new kitchen space at Houston Secondary School have greatly improved the delivery of its breakfast and lunch program.

The ovens, which have induction cooktops, arrived at the time of an uptick in demand both at the school and at next door Twain Sullivan Elementary whose students can also participate in the food program, says Jaksun Grice, the principal at both schools.

“The food program responds to the needs within the community and within our school community,” said Grice of the 200 to 250 meals a day that are provided.

There’s no charge for breakfast or lunch for elementary students and while there’s no charge for breakfasts for secondary students, there is a $3 charge for secondary students based on the ability to pay.

Grice estimates the breakfast and lunch program provides nutrition to more than half of the student population of both schools.

He gives complete credit to Wendy Prebble, the program’s sole employee who plans and prepares each of the meals.

“She just does a fantastic job,” said Grice of Prebble’s dedication.

“I’m not sure how she does it. She just so passionate about providing nutritious food.”

Grice also noted the contributions of the national Breakfast Club of Canada program which finances breakfasts and the contributions of local businesses and others.

“Buy Low Foods supplies three or four cases of fruit and vegetables each week. We have quite a few parents who make donations and we have ranchers that will either donate beef or supply beef at a reduced rate,” he said.

Along with the ovens, which have a value of $4,261, the Dungate Community Forest provided a grant to purchase other new appliances.

All are located within a renovated and enlarged kitchen space that’s part of a substantial change in the function of Houston Secondary’s foyer.

“Before, when you opened the dishwasher, you couldn’t move around it,” said Grice of the previous cramped kitchen space.

The renovation project is still underway and includes not only a larger kitchen area, but improved insulation to reduce energy costs.

Money for the project, which is estimated at $400,000, came through a school enhancement program grant from the provincial education ministry, said School District 54 secretary-treasurer Dave Margerm.