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Success Stories: Program blends language and nutrition

April 10, 2018 Erin Black, Red Deer Public School District
Trustees Bill Stuebing (left) and Dianne MacAulay join superintendent Stu Henry as Smoothie Day volunteers at Fairview Elementary School in Red Deer. (SUPPLIED)

Smoothie Day is one of the most exciting days at Fairview Elementary School in Red Deer!

The monthly initiative allows English as a second language students to prepare and serve 237 nutritious smoothies to the entire school.

Fairview is one of Red Deer Public Schools’ congregated English as a second language sites, and Smoothie Day is an opportunity for the students to be engaged, build a sense of community and learn the English language, all while having fun.

This is the second year the program has been in place.
“When we were selected for the Alberta Nutrition Pilot, we started working with a nutritionist from Alberta Health Services. We wanted to come up with something else in addition to breakfast and lunch delivery. We purchased the equipment to make smoothies so that we could continue to create nutritious choices,” said Kim Walker, principal at Fairview Elementary School, adding the partnership with the nutritionist has been invaluable.

“She comes up with some of the most amazing recipes. She said that she can make anything nutritious taste delicious in a smoothie. And it’s true! The kids have had spinach, lentils, beans, chickpeas — you name it. She can make it taste awesome!”

Walker added the program is a great opportunity for ESL learners to practice English and for volunteers to come in and help.

“It creates such a sense of community because they are so proud of that program. The kids are proud and confident,” said Walker. “As soon as one Smoothie Day ends, they are asking when the next one is.”

The smoothie recipes are also published in the school’s newsletters so that families can make a nutritious snack at home.

“Our nutrition co-ordinator preps all of the vegetables and fruit, but the students measure the ingredients, read the recipes, they build the smoothies, pour them and deliver them. It is great to see the confidence grow in our ESL learners,” said Walker.
She added this program would be a great one to add to any school, no matter the age of the students.

“A smoothie day would be a great leadership opportunity for students, even at the elementary level,” said Walker. “We’ve got students who help out anywhere between the ages of seven to 10. If you had the opportunity to purchase blenders and then work with a local nutritionist and community partners for the fruit and vegetables, I think it is a great way to build nutrition into your school life.”

Adventures in toast

Another program the school runs is Try Something Different On Your Toast Tuesdays.

“Our nutritionist picks the combination of things that go on the toast. The most popular thing last year was avocado with tomato slices,” said Walker, adding kids have also tried things like apple butter as well as hummus on their toast.

“Both of these programs have been so successful, and it’s great to see the joy on the children’s faces. We all smile in the same language! Truly, it is a great way to teach, learn and try something that is both nutritious and delicious.” ❚

Erin Black is a communications assistant with the Red Deer Public School District.


Success Stories is a new feature in the ATA News that enables teachers to share their successes with their colleagues. To submit an idea or an article about a new program or approach that you’ve instituted, please contact managing editor Cory Hare at

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