The urban café canteen at Canobolas Rural Technology High School

Through a partnership with parents and the community, Canobolas Rural Technology High School has transformed the canteen into an urban café using fresh and local produce.

Duration – 3:43

Video transcript

Andrew Farley, Canteen Manager

Orange is renowned for its food industry. It's traditionally quite a rural farming area.

I'm Andrew Farley. I did my apprenticeship and later became the sous chef of a fine dining restaurant here in town.

Even though Orange is renowned for its food, we are in a predicament where canteens in particular are still selling the traditionally unhealthy, processed foods.

Geoff Pelley, Head Teacher

The canteen here was a fairly traditional school canteen. Meat pies, sausage rolls.

Kate Wootten, Principal

The old canteen was certainly not making money. The P&C decided to look for another manager of the school canteen.

Andrew Farley

I was looking around for a bit of a change of pace, and heard about a job offering here at the school.

Kate Wootten

And when we got the ideas for the new menu from Andrew, there was no choice but to employ him.

Andrew Farley

I thought it was gonna be a pretty cruisy job. I was very wrong with that assumption.

Trying to cook for 400 odd students, day one with no experience, in a canteen situation was quite a challenge.

I made the decision then that I wasn't gonna try and phase in a lot of food. I was just gonna come in and completely bring in my own menu, pushing it towards an urban cafe feel, getting students and teachers involved and breaking down the barrier between the two.

The biggest changes I've made to the menu are taking away a lot of the sausage rolls and pies, and bringing in healthier alternatives – focusing more on whole ingredients as opposed to processed foods, making a lot of fresh stuff ourselves.

I really do look for local produce where I can. Fruit, fresh every week from a local orchard.

One of the first weeks I was here, I was told that I would never sell any fruit at all, and I couldn't even give it away.

And later that week I had actually sold over 20 kilos of fruit, in the form of our fruit cups, which was a really proud moment for me, to be able to come in and prove that to be wrong.

(school bell)

Lunchtime rush is quite hectic. (laughs)

Geoff Pelley

There was a little bit of resistance because kids were seeing foods that they weren't familiar with.

Andrew Farley

One day this student who always got a sausage roll seemed quite devastated in the fact that he couldn't get a sausage roll. So I suggested to him to try the pasta, and he came back the next day, raving about how great this pasta was and he now buys the pasta every single day.

Kate Wootten

He opens up options for them to try new foods.

He not only changed the food menu, but also the pricing structures, so the cheaper options are the healthiest options.

Student

Yeah, it's definitely been a change for the better, like heaps more kids now buy their lunch.

Kate Wootten

Financially, Andrew's made a massive profit in the first 12 months.

Andrew Farley

We've doubled the sales of the previous canteen.

Well, we're seeing a huge increase in the sale of healthy options.

Kate Wootten

I know that a lot of schools are very hesitant to make changes – and I would agree that I was dubious to start with, that the kids would embrace it – but they absolutely do, and they love it.

Geoff Pelley

You can't underestimate the choices kids will make if presented with healthy options.

Andrew Farley

I do get a great sense of satisfaction, and being able to see a change that's been made to these kids' lives – through food, and through providing a really positive atmosphere here at the canteen.

Titles

For further information on Healthy School Canteens, go to healthyschoolcanteens.nsw.gov.au.

End of transcript.

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