Cafeteria program introduces students to the culinary arts

Similkameen Elementary Secondary School's cafeteria program is getting more popular in its second year



It’s nearing noon hour and the Similkameen Elementary Secondary School cafeteria is a bee hive of activity as  students in the school’s cafeteria program prepare today’s lunch menu for the school.

The cafeteria program, which started last year under the guidance of Sherry Philpott – Adhikary, is in its second year and gaining popularity amongst the student body – for both the program content as well as the tasty lunches  produced as a result of it.

Today, students under the direction of teacher Nicola Haamers are working towards the elementary school students 12:15 lunch period, followed by the secondary lunch at 12:45.

“ All the students have passed their two day FoodSafe course,” explained Haamers, “the students are involved in the program for one semester at a time, but can take the program for up to three years if they wish.”

The school’s cafeteria is broken up into several workstations where students bake, prepare salads, entrees, sandwiches and soup. They also have clean up stations where dishwashing and other kitchen duties are performed.

“Students rotate through the stations on a weekly basis,” Haamers added, “The entrees table seems to be the most popular.” A look at the menu reveals a wide variety of selections to choose from through the week – today’s menu features won ton soup with sandwiches and wraps, for instance.

“The students are taught to make everything from scratch,” added Haamers, who has two support workers to help guide the students.

All the elementary students eat in the cafeteria, with at least half or more of the senior student population remaining in the school at lunchtime, although that number inflates somewhat in the winter. At least two students have indicated they would like to go further in the trade – Chelsea Ouimette, who said that she would like to pursue a pastry chef program after finishing a mechanic’s apprenticeship, and Jeff Holub, who is planning on taking a culinary arts course after SESS.

Looking around the busy kitchen – that smells pretty good , too – it certainly appears that the students seem to be enjoying the program – while learning a set of skills that could be put to use immediately in their own homes.

Indeed, once their parents read this article – and see the photos of their kids so adept at kitchen duties – it’s possible that life at home will never be the same for these students.