Since 2008, over 1,000,000 crunchers have participated in the Great Big Crunch, “an annual moment of anti-silence where everyone gets together and bites into crunchy fresh local produce in unison. The symphony is loud, whether you munch on apples or carrots.” (FoodShare)
On Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 2pm, there was a loud reverberation heard throughout the building at Pilgrim Wood Public School. Thankfully, it wasn’t a natural disaster. Rather, it was more than 680 students, staff, and volunteers simultaneously crunching into local, organic apples and carrots!
Volunteers arrived at noon that day to wash, cut, count and deliver an incredibly large amount of fresh produce. Students from the gardening club came down to the staff room to assist in the preparations.
One Kindergarten teacher commented that while one boy thought the carrots “tasted like dirt”, absolutely no food was left in the class by the end of the event. What was not tasty for one student was eagerly eaten by another! One volunteer said she saw kids getting excited about the fresh produce. They marvelled at how many apples had been delivered (12 giant bags!) and were excited to do the event.
The fun generated by this event and the enjoyment of fresh local produce were clearly voiced by these students and teachers.
Ben, a Grade 2 student, said, “The kids loved eating the apples – they were racing to eat so they could take another slice”.
Emily said that in Grade 7 she overheard comments such as, "These apples are so good. They taste so fresh!"
"I liked how it was about healthy eating. The apple was the sweetest." - D.B. Grade 1
"I think the coolest thing was we got to eat fresh food from a local farm, and that we got to eat together." - M.P. Grade 2
"A great way to promote healthy eating here at Pilgrim Wood." - Vanessa V
"I really enjoyed it because it was interesting and a healthy activity that the class did together." - Sonja T.
"It was fun because I heard everyone crunch at the same time." - Sienna A
"The apples and carrots were delicious and sweet." - Skyler X
Sarah Lowes, an active environmental champion and Grade 5/6 teacher, said, “The Great Big Crunch created so much buzz and positive energy at the school! Students were very excited to eat fruit and vegetables and commented on how tasty their bites were. Historically across most cultures sharing food has been an important part of bringing people together and building connections.”
We had cheerful volunteers come into the school to prepare and offer the healthy snack to everyone throughout the school. Plus, we made connections with a local farm, Drummond Farms, in Waterdown! Sharing an apple or a carrot created a natural entry point for discussions to take place about where our food is grown. Teachers commented on how great it was to see students eating healthy snacks and how quickly engaged the students were in discussing healthy eating, a topic addressed in the curriculum at every grade level. One of the most common questions we heard was "What does local mean?"
Ramsha Ahmed, from Greening Sacred Spaces, also came into teach students about Food Systems. The students learned about the environment impacts during production, distribution, transportation and other phases in the system when the food is traditionally produced and how it changes when we eat locally grown foods.
Our Public Health Nurse, Cynthia Lindsay, came out to support our event and reinforce the healthy schools initiative.
We can't wait for next year to see how our conversations grow over the years. Thank you for the community support Halton Food Council! "
By Andrea Rowe, Volunteer