====School lunch survival guide====
With school starting up after a long hot summer, our latest food skills class targeted one of the hardest parts of school for many young local individuals: school lunch.
Many youth living in East Van face high levels of food insecurity. Between homework, projects, extra curricular activities and a part time job, planning and preparing a lunch every night is sometimes too much for many independent youth.
In the Eastside Afterschool Program:
- 20% of youth rely on free school lunch programs
- 35% regularly don’t have a lunch to eat
- 40% make their own lunch every day
- 5% of youth have a parent or guardian prepare their lunch for them
Gracie taught the youth a meal prep solution to their lunchtime needs: Quinoa Salad.
Eating a balanced and sustainable meal midday improves student performance in afternoon classes. Eating a proper lunch reduces the energy crash youth often experience around 3pm.
Quinoa Salad is a game changer when it comes to school lunch meal prep. One big batch made on Sunday night will last until Friday. Prepping eliminates the need for making lunch every morning. It is also cost effective.
Gracie’s quinoa salad
- Prepare 1 cup of quinoa according to package instructions (add turmeric to water while cooking)
- 1 pepper chopped
- 1/4 onion diced
- 1 can of corn or 1 cup frozen corn
- 1-2 celery sticks diced
- 1/2 broccoli head chopped
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 can black beans or chickpeas
- 1 cup steamed edamame beans
- 2 cloves garlic diced
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar for preservation
Mix all ingredients in a large container. Store in fridge up to 5 days.
For the presentation, we used lighthouse Sesame Ginger dressing. A simple balsamic and Greek dressing also pairs well. Gracie encouraged the youth to try making their own dressing if they had the time, otherwise store bought does the trick!
This salad is protein packed, thanks to quinoa, edamame beans, chickpeas and broccoli. Add more protein with a hard boiled egg, a couple pieces of cheese or half an avocado to ensure a balanced meal.
Adding in fresh spinach, micro greens, and grape tomatoes is extremely beneficial to your health and delicious!
Easy as 1,2,3!
Now you’re set! It’s best to prepare your lunch container the night before or morning of to keep all the ingredients fresh.
Every morning or night add the base, salad dressing, protein and greens in your lunch container and your lunch is done for school! It won’t take longer than 5 minutes.
Eastside food skills
The youth witnessed the salad being freshly made during the education session. After their workout, they enjoyed it as a protein-packed post workout meal.
We’re grateful we can help impact the nutritional needs of the youth in our programs, and we encourage they share the knowledge they learn with their peers at school.
We frequently provide non perishable food in our food pantry such as canned corn, beans and quinoa.