St John’s canteen takes a new healthier direction in 2016

St John’s Primary School has a new canteen operator in Shel Parisi.
St John’s Primary School has a new canteen operator in Shel Parisi.

St John’s School canteen has a new operator this year with Shel Parisi keen to offer students a new range of healthy options.

Mrs Parisi said with her youngest child starting Kindergarten, she was looking for a ‘school time’ job.

Having had past experience in catering, she thought setting up the school canteen as her own business was something she could do that would be rewarding, be helpful for the school and also beneficial to her family.

“I offered my business proposal and the school have been wonderful in assuring that we can work together to both receive a positive outcome,” Mrs Parisi said.

Over the past two years prior to Mrs Parisi taking on the canteen, it had been operating only when volunteers were available.

The canteen is now open four days a week for recess and lunch orders.

“I have run my own home-based cake decorating business for four years, so I already had my ‘Follow Workplace Hygiene Procedures Qualification’ and ‘Food Safety Supervisor Certificate’ and am confident in serving food to the public. I have also completed my Certificate in Nutrition as I have a personal interest in how food can affect the way we function.

“I love the challenge of making food that tastes amazing but is secretly nutritious!”

Mrs Parisi said she has opted to replace many packaged foods with healthier options.

“I have implemented the ‘Fresh Tastes @ School NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy’ and have been overwhelmed at how well the students are taking the changes.

“I’m proud the kids are trying things that they wouldn’t usually choose from the canteen,” she said.

“I am an avid believer that food has an effect on behaviour, as I have seen firsthand how my kids react because of food intolerances.

“I am keen to help other kids (and the teachers) by simply not offering the worst offending foods.,” she said

“Instead of blue ice blocks, we now have ‘canteen made’ fruit and yoghurt pops; instead of chips we now have popcorn and pretzels; and instead of jelly cups we have fruit kebabs or grape cups.”

Mrs Parisi said after being in the role for just a few weeks, she is already very pleased with the positive feedback she’s received.

“A lot of parents have contacted me as they are now happy that if they have a busy day, it doesn’t mean their kids get junk food for lunch.”

Mrs Parisi said St John’s School principal Renee Matheson has helped her set up an online ordering system through the Skoolbag App, which the school already uses, so parents can order their children’s lunches when it suits them.