Cumnock Public School

One schools’ COVID-19 response a simmering success.

In rural areas, 2020 will be remembered for the dual challenges of drought and COVID-19. But as the efforts of one small school have shown, rural communities know how to rally during tough times.

Parent volunteers play a vital role preparing lunches for students at Cumnock Public School, which has a large proportion of low-socioeconomic and Indigenous students.

But social distancing restrictions put in place in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to that help, and the school canteen was closed.

Keen to help alleviate the financial pressure in the local community and ensure its students continued to eat well at school, Cumnock PS instituted Friday Feasts, a program that incorporates nutritionally balanced meals into the school curriculum.

Students queue in front of a table of food.
Image: Students take part in Friday Feasts.

It was a whole of school solution, with Years 5 and 6 students helping to brainstorm, budget, source, prepare, dice, cook, mix and serve their fellow students with delicious meals every Friday.

The little chefs took inspiration from international dishes, cooking fried rice, mini quiches, nachos and pastry scrolls, and even trying their hands at a delicious Japanese savoury pancake called okonomiyaki. Everyone looked forward to seeing what was on the menu each week.

The program’s benefits stretched beyond filling empty tummies during the school day: the children learnt to cook easy and delicious meals that they could take home to their families. A Friday Feasts recipe book was collated and illustrated by the children, supporting their numeracy and literacy skills.

Students enjoyed cooking delicious, healthy meals at home, and parents were so impressed they asked that the program continue for the remainder of the year.

The school is now planning to also develop a sustainable vegetable garden.

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