A Grade 12 student with a passion for healthy living and eating is spearheading changes at Caledonia Senior Secondary along with a new club.
Seamus Damstrom has slowly introduced healthier food choices at the school’s canteen in an effort to add more nutrition to the variety of items that students have to choose from and enjoy.
It all began when he became part of the Healthy Living Youth Council, a one-year program put on by the Directorate of Agencies for School Health BC.
He had to start a project to promote health and wellness in his school so after giving it some thought, he realized his passion is food and helping others get to optimal health through food.
So he looked at the school canteen and noticed a few healthy options but most of the foods being purchased were nachos and pizza.
“I then decided that I would try to use our school canteen to start a food revolution – introducing health food options and trying to change students’ eating habits,” he said.
He knew that dictating changes wouldn’t work so he talked with the canteen teacher and together they found healthy recipes that the canteen could sell.
He asked students to rank food items, rate the price and say how often they would buy them as part of a survey.
After analyzing the results, he found the top three health items students had ranked and added them to the menu once a week.
Added to the menu was hummus and pita, homemade soup and homemade chili and samples were offered before students bought them to increase interest.
Instead of removing nachos from the menu, he worked with the canteen teacher and local dietitians to add more vegetables to them and kept the price higher than healthier food items.
Their popularity dropped off and this year, they were removed from the menu without anyone seeming to notice.
He has since started a Healthy Living Club and wrapped up a second student survey on Healthy Living, he said.
The survey will be presented at the teachers’ staff meeting next month.
Some of the survey results that came back included many students saying they’d like to see a youth recreational centre here.
“They feel that would be something that would be accepted with open arms in our community,” said Damstrom.
“There were a lot of people I talked to who thought it was a cool idea because sometimes on Saturdays or Fridays or weekends they don’t want to go swimming or there’s some sort of barrier that hinders them from going to that location and they thought a rec centre would be a cool place so if they’re bored one night they can go there instead of getting into bad habits or bad influences.”
Another idea of the club members is to do a cooking show with Skeena Diversity and show some simple recipes that young people or anybody could make, he said.
And plans are underway for a mental health board and a healthy eating board with a recipe of the week, tips and nutrition facts.
For the school canteen, he spoke to a dietitian, who suggested putting more dishes in with more food groups in them.
Damstrom is heading toward a career as a dietitian too to continue his passion for healthy living with the community.
with files from Northern Health