School says no to numbers

Chevallum State School TuckshopA unique partnership between a state school and local organic marketplace in Queensland’s hinterland is delivering enormous benefits to students.

Chevallum is a small community in the Sunshine Coast region, about 96 kilometres from Brisbane.

The Chevallum State School is the only community building in the tight-knit community. The school has grown over the past decade from 100 to 500 students, with families drawn from all over the Sunshine Coast.

In December last year, Chevallum State School Parents & Citizens Association president, Ben Calder, put in motion the next stage of the evolution of the school’s tuckshop, Café C.

Ben met with local business, Australian Certified Organic accredited Kunara Organic Marketplace, a one-stop destination for all things natural and certified organic, to discuss forming a closer relationship.

Kunara comprises a natural foodstore with more than 18,000 product lines, an award-winning cafe, which offers a 95 per cent organic and gluten-free menu, a garden centre specialising in pesticide-free gardening and a wholesale and manufacturing plant.

Ben says, “Kunara’s philosophy very much meshes with ours. We always pride ourselves on being a cafe that is mindful of what we feed our children and trying to make everything from scratch as much as possible.

“Our school is a school of choice so we have an engaged parent group that supports our underlying principle of trying to do things as healthily as we can.

“We now work on the philosophy of ‘ingredients, not numbers’ in our cafe.”

Kunara presented the Kunara Ingredients Not Numbers proposal to the parents & citizens association, which outlined how the new relationship could operate.

Fran Leman, from Kunara Organic Marketplace, says, “We are really excited about the relationship because the school is part of our community. We have a broad knowledge base and are extremely aware of food allergies and how to cater for them. Kunara can also offer the school good wholesale rates for fruit and vegetables that they don’t grow in their organic garden.”

The next step was a workshop with recognised gluten-free chef and Kunara executive chef, Monica Topliss, who walked 22 parents through the art of making sausage rolls.

Fran says, “The most popular product on the cafe’s menu was prepackaged sausage rolls but the ingredients weren’t good. Now, the sausage rolls are made with butter pastry, certified organic meat and vegetables.”

Certified organic mince is sourced from a local butcher.

After a week building up stocks, Café C launched its sausage rolls on May 26. Ben says, “The children loved it.

“We know kids are affected by what they eat, as far as concentration and ability to learn, so we need to be fostering and supporting that message.

“I hope our cafe will have a menu that has ingredients, not numbers, and fulfils that circle of what we teach the kids in the garden program about the value of healthy, nutritious food.

“We are reinforcing that message when they go and buy their lunch at the cafe.”

The cafe’s pizza base – already home made – will now be made from certified organic flour. The spaghetti bolognaise sauce is being made with certified organic mince and certified organic pasta, supplied by Kunara. The menu’s salads will also be reviewed to ensure they are as organic as possible.

Ben says a byproduct of the menu changes is being able to offer some gluten-free items.

“The mince for the sausage rolls and bolognaise sauce is made with certified organic beef and seven per cent rice flour, so that effectively means it’s gluten free.”

The tuckshop opens Monday, Wednesday and Friday but Ben hopes, over time, it can expand to a daily operation.

Ben says, “I’m so proud of it. “We aim to be as organic as possible, but that can only happen with passionate people who will put their hands up.”

By Lea Coghlin

More about healthy schools

Australian Organic is proud to support healthy and organic education in schools through the Australian Organic Schools initiative. It has some fantastic curriculum materials, videos and recipes for classrooms, plus stories like the one you’ve just read. organic