This year at Flinders we have made a commitment to improve our menu by developing the nutritional value and taste sensation of all the meals offered, incorporating more whole foods and a more inclusive approach to the provision of allergy meals.
Food is central to so much of what we do as humans and our children have a right to learn and experience a healthful and positive food culture here at Flinders.
Hand in hand with a positive food culture comes an understanding of where our food comes from and how it is produced, preferencing sustainable practices where possible.
Making all this happen has been an exciting time. Involving all stakeholders; children, families, our kitchen and administration staff, director, assistant directors, educators and food suppliers has required dedication, time, communication and quite a bit of trial and error.
The children have been looking at, feeling, smelling and tasting the new foods from our trial menus. Some dishes have been received really enthusiastically. Tom from Sturt House said when tasting the Sushi platter for the first time ‘It smells just like at the shop!’ and Alex from Toddler House said ’What’s this?’ about fifteen times as she looked at, picked up, smelt, felt and then tasted each one of the fifteen different ingredients she could choose from the Create Your Own Noodle Bowl dish platter. Other dishes have slowly grown on the children with some, like the Bircher Muesli, for morning tea, becoming new favourites. We have had time to tweak things and see what is working and what is not; for the children, for the educators and for the kitchen staff.
We are currently trialling a winter menu, introducing warming dishes like Black Bean Soup with Corn Salsa and Corn Bread, Stack Your Own Baked Potato and Minestrone Soup with Garlic Bread. Not only do these lunches provide great nutrition, flavour and textural experiences they also offer an opportunity for the children to serve themselves and truly engage in the ceremony of sharing food with others.
By the second half of the year we hope to have established our two seasonal menus. We have been communicating the daily menu to families at the sign in desk in each house, blackboard style, positioned to encourage anticipation and discussion about the beautiful food to come throughout the day between parents and children. Our next goal will be to create a menu that all the children will be able to ‘read’. Shall we use the language of photography, of drawing or of painting for the children’s menu? More consultation will be required. Our Flinders food forage continues!