In between math and English, A.L. Fortune Secondary students are getting a life lesson.
Every day, student volunteers at the Enderby school prepare nutritious breakfasts and lunches for their classmates.
“It’s good experience and I like helping people,” said Courtney Quigley, a Grade 12 student, as she slices apples for a crisp.
“It’s my favourite thing to do.”
The Orange Kettle program began many years ago when staff realized some students were coming to school hungry.
“They know they will have healthy food if they don’t have it (at home),” said Natalie Easthope, the learning resource teacher.
However, all students are able to access breakfast and lunch, with students and support staff doing all of the work in the kitchen.
“It’s a whole school project,” said Easthope.
“Students are learning about healthy diets, processing food and time management. It’s not just filling bellies but learning life skills.”
On this Wednesday, apples are being sliced for a crisp and turkey vegetable soup is simmering on the stove.
“It’s a chance to help out the school,” said Shelby Mulcaster, a Grade 12 student, as she reads a recipe.
Next to her, Tessa Mayes slices apples, and when asked if cooking could become a career goal, she says, “I’m not sure, but maybe.”
In between her regular duties, special education assistant Katherine Dimmick rolls up her sleeves in the kitchen.
“Kids come hungry and they may not have what they need at home,” she said.
“Also, it’s great working with the students.”
However, a challenge for the program is ensuring there is enough food.
“We’ve run out and for students needing it, we don’t have it any more,” said Easthope.
“We don’t want this to happen.”
The program relies on donations of money and fresh produce, and the call is being put out to residents and businesses to contribute.
“We made borscht once because we had a donation of beets,” said Easthope.
Regular support comes from the Enderby Lions, Rotary, IGA, Sutherland’s and other businesses and service clubs, as well as A.L. Fortune’s parent advisory council.
Last year, an average of 50 to 60 students a day used the program, while it’s currently about 20 to 30.
“At the beginning of the school year, students worked over the summer and they have money, and there is a lot of local produce. But over winter, it becomes more difficult for them,” said Easthope.
Anyone interested in donating funds or produce can drop by the school office.