They were up at the crack of dawn chopping vegetables, preparing the kale, spreading hummus on whole wheat tortillas. A team of volunteers at the SouthWest Mission in Verdun worked together to produce 300 « health wraps ». They were all gobbled up by an army of children at Verdun Elementary in less than a minute.
SouthWest Mission was one of a handful of Montreal community organizations that produced free lunches for schoolchildren as part of Action Day on School Nutrition on September 20. The effort was meant to promote healthy eating habits to boys and girls.
« For the most vulnerable people, it’s easier to go to McDonald’s for a ready-made meal. But if you make it at home, it’s much cheaper and better for you, » says Léonore Pion, food coordinator at SouthWest Mission.
Besides the wrap, the lunch bags also contained a small container of homemade coleslaw, a banana-kale mini-muffin and a shiny red apple.
The SouthWest Mission hopes the initiative sends a message to school board officials to revise their lunch programs.
« Our lunch was veggie-packed. 80 percent of this meal is from vegetables. Most school lunches contain less than 20 percent, » Pion adds.
The collective of community groups is calling on electoral candidates to promote healthy school lunches after the provincial election.
« I know farmers that are just dumping unused local produce. It’s sad to see. We should be using it. We have to start somewhere. This is a start, » says Pion.
She adds it’s time for everyone to think about growing healthy children in Quebec.