Canteen Champions: Kerrie, Bolwarra Primary

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

School canteens and sports kiosks are important sites for celebrating healthy, nourishing food and drink. Our Healthy Kids Advisors are proud to work alongside hundreds of local ‘Canteen Champions’ to support them in increasing fresh, delicious food options for their community's young people and families.

We've hand-picked four Canteen Champions from Victoria to share their stories, vision and best-selling dishes. Our second profile is with Kerrie, a passionate volunteer in the canteen at Bolwarra Primary School in the Shire of Glenelg.

“Every second Friday, I volunteer to run activities where students can learn outside the classroom to enhance their wellbeing. We run fun cooking activities in the canteen, do bush walks nearby, offer mindful colouring, and sometimes tend to the kitchen garden.

On these Fridays, I volunteer to run the canteen with support from a small group of parent volunteers and students. We receive ingredients from FoodShare, but I like to check what’s ready to pick in the garden. Using fresh ingredients is always a good place to start.

I’m all about paddock to plate! I see what’s in season and plan from there. We have a couple of vegetable plots at school, but with the addition of a garden harvest pantry, we now accept excess produce from community members. We recently received donations of eggs and passionfruit. 

I write up the menu at the beginning of the week. The school sends home a lunch order form which gets returned by parents on the Thursday beforehand. I use the lunch order money to purchase any extra ingredients. 

I prepare and cook the ingredients with a small group of students, and then we either sell it at lunchtime through our window canteen or plate it up to share at the end of our session. The lunch favourites include veggie nachos, pizzas, soups, stir-fries, and salad rolls or wraps.

We try to make dishes fun, like presenting wedges in a paper cone. We also think about the 80/20 ratio: start with something familiar, like corn chips, and then add nourishing additions, like a tomato and veggie-loaded salsa with light sour cream and grated cheese.

The students will help collect ingredients from the veggie patch and the garden harvest pantry and then prepare the items with me. One student made a beetroot dip, and although reluctant to try it at first because she was involved in the whole process, she gave it a go and even asked to take it home to share with her family. 

Sharing the recipes with students to take home and cook with their families keeps the children interested and more likely to try the next new meal. There’s an idea in the pipeline to develop a school recipe book for families.

It’s a challenge when students are unfamiliar with some of the fresh ingredients because it can make them reluctant to try new things. I’m hoping that, as a group, students will see their peers trying new things and give it a go themselves. Repetition of menu items helps too. Some students may not try a new, healthy meal the first time but they might change their minds the next time around. 

I love teaching children kitchen skills that most of us take for granted. For example, showing the kids how to hold a knife safely to chop ingredients or explaining the difference between mixing and beating. Watching the kids enjoy what they’ve created and trying new flavours that they may not have tried otherwise, always brings a smile to my face.

The more the kids see what’s happening in the kitchen, the more they want to help — even with the dishes and cleaning up. The engagement and willingness to get involved and help each other out is a real buzz."

Keen to hear from our other Canteen Champions?

  • Read about Jodie from Maryborough Giants here
  • Read about Zoe from Athol Road Primary School here
  • Read about Sally from Hamilton & Alexandra College here

About the Healthy Kids Advisors initiative 

The Healthy Kids Advisors initiative is delivered by the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and supported by the Victorian Government and Australian Government. 

This community engagement initiative is active in 13 priority communities to spread pleasurable food education and encourage participation in the state-wide Vic Kids Eat Well movement. 

In collaboration with local health promoters, Council and community, our Advisors offer free support and simple ideas to boost healthy and delicious food and drink in schools, sports clubs, after-hours care and council-run facilities. 

Want more information?

Visit the Healthy Kids Advisors news page or contact us at

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