A new school year at Fredericton's Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne is underway and both students and patrons of the centre will have the option of eating healthier and eating more local foods.
The centre's new head chef René Thériault was brought in to develop a new, healthier approach in the facility's kitchen.
The multi-purpose centre includes 1300 students from both École Sainte-Anne high school and École des Batisseurs grade school, a French library, a daycare and a few other businesses.
Prepackaged foods are out. The goal for the new menu is to have 30 per cent local ingredients, with healthier meals produced from scratch.
The staff has undergone special training to be able to prepare the new menu that includes learning the valuable time-saving skill of the fastest way to chop vegetables.
'If only one farmer can live better because of us, I think that's a success.' —Jeanine Landry, Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne
They are being rewarded for the more challenging work, including a slightly higher wage than before, a chance to build hours towards a chef certification, and the possibility of profit sharing.
Five per cent of the profits made from the kitchen, café and catering service will be divided among the workers.
Thériault works side by side with Jeanine Landry. She is responsible for balancing out food costs and keeping a steady stream of local produce flowing into the kitchen.
Though it's been hard to convince suppliers that they want New Brunswick produce first, she thinks it's worth it.
"Every year people are going to join us and at the end we're going to help all the farmers and everything that is local," Landry said, "And I think that's great. If only one farmer can live better because of us, I think that's a success."
In a letter sent home to students, parents are being encouraged to send in their children's favourite homemade recipes. If the recipes are practical and cost-effective for mass production, and if they can be sourced locally, staff may incorporate those recipes into the cafeteria's menu.
The cafeteria sold 70,000 meals last year. The hope is that this year, that will increase.
The same staff that works the kitchen will also take over the café and catering business.