Sudbury schools face cafeteria food sales challenges

One Sudbury principal says her school has bucked the province-wide trend of declining food sales in public school cafeterias.

Schools across Ontario losing business to fast food, says Auditor General

Principal Heather Gaffney stands next to the steam oven at Lockerby Composite School in Sudbury.

One Sudbury principal says her high school has bucked the trend of declining cafeteria sales. 

"This year, sales have definitely been up," says Heather Gaffney, principal at Lockerby Composite.  

The latest report from the Ontario auditor general suggests public secondary schools across the province are struggling to make money while still providing healthy food for students. 

In 2010, new guidelines were introduced for the food sold in Ontario public schools that called for a reduction in the amount of sodium, fat and sugar in foodstuffs sold at school.  

Gaffney said at Lockerby, this meant throwing out the deep fryer, and replacing it with a steam oven

"We stopped selling things like poutine," she said, citing an old student favourite. Gaffney said the school also removed cola and chocolate bars from the vending machines. 

Many schools in the Sudbury area have seen a decline in food sales since the policy was implemented. In 2007-2008, schools in the Rainbow district grossed around $1.4 million from food sales. Last school year, they made less than one million. 

For years, Lockerby was in a similar situation

"Sales were down, for sure, for a while," said Gaffney. "We really noticed that, especially in the first year, after implementing the policy."

One school rebounds 

Gaffney said this year, sales are finally coming back up. 

She credits the turn-around to two new servers on staff, who are making more creative meals that still conform to provincial standards. 

Keith Fram, a Grade 12 student, said he's using the cafeteria more than ever.

"I used to go out almost every lunch," Fram said. "They didn't really serve anything I liked. Now I do."