West Kelowna  

Parents defend school's food

Parents have come to the defence of a West Kelowna school after a student captured images of the food she was receiving as part of the school's lunch program.

Randy Millis raised concerns about his daughter’s lunches at Chief Tomat Elementary School and said he was worried about how nutritious the food is.

“She in many cases was getting no veggie servings or was getting a baby carrot or two and a slice of cucumber,” he said. “I know they have quite a challenge with their budget of feeding 50 kids, but to me it really doesn’t seem to be at par or appetizing. It looked gross, actually.”

Other parents reached out to voice their concerns after the story was published on Castanet.

Stephanie Grace Derkatch said she would like to give praise to the principal, teachers and chef for the current meal program.

“Sure, the food is not gourmet, but it's certainly not gross,” said Derkatch. “I'm grateful they have the food to feed our children and they feed the ones who can't afford lunch. I'm grateful they take the time to even set up such a thing as hot lunch in the first place.”

Brent Stevenson, a parent of a student who has received paid hot lunches for years, said the people who run the program do their best to provide for the students and should be commended.

“The school is providing a service, but if they don't like the service, they don't have to participate in it,” said Bruno Rossi. “At the same time, yes, I do believe that the school should provide healthy lunches, so keep the discussion going until all the parents are satisfied.”

A spokesperson for Central Okanagan Public Schools clarified that the meals are created by the school’s chef. He said there is a "health promoting school committee" that offers informal consultation to the school regarding food services, but that it does not play an authoritative role.

“It’s more consultative, they are a supportive role, not an authoritative role,” said the spokesperson.

The chef was hired for his experience, according to the spokesperson.

“He was formerly, I believe, the chef for the Grand Okanagan and he is currently a foods teacher at Okanagan College,” said the spokesperson. “In terms of nutrition, he follows the provincial nutritional guidelines.”

The B.C. food and beverage guidelines for schools states that vegetables and fruit should be offered in a variety of colours; green, blue, orange, red, yellow and white. It also recommends an emphasis on dark green and orange vegetables and seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables when they are available.

According to the spokesperson, nothing at the school is deep fried and confirmed that students do have the option to receive fresh fruit and vegetables from the office.

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