Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

Merici Leads Healthy Eating

Merici College Leads the Way with Healthy Eating

by Virginia McLeod, Assistant Global Studies Co-ordinator, Merici College

Healthy Eating as a Catalyst for Change

Late last year Merici College decided to take over the running of the school canteen in order to provide a healthy alternative for students and staff. The canteen also supports Merici’s vision of a becoming a more sustainable school.

The key objectives of The Healthy Canteen Project are to:

  • provide cheap healthy food
  • enable vocational students to get industry experience whilst studying
  • encourage girls to sit and eat in a social environment
  • reduce the amount of processed and packaged foods and drinks consumed by students
  • enable the college to take positive steps towards sustainable practices to reduce, reuse and recycle

The Healthy Canteen Project has since been a catalyst for other sustainability initiatives within the school. These include the establishment of a vegetable garden, the development of a sustainability elective and working on ways to improve waste management in the school.  All these activities are integrated, and are either driven by student groups or part of the school curriculum to ensure their sustainability.

garden in progressVegetable Garden
The School Vegetable Garden Project aims to provide students with the practical experience in growing organic vegetables that promotes an understanding in sustainable food production.

The core objectives are to:

  • Provide students with practical experience in growing their own fresh food
  • Sustainability Elective students use the garden to develop skills in design, vegetable cultivation and water management
  • The school Canteen and Hospitality classes make use of produce from the garden to help promote healthy eating

Sustainability Elective
In this elective students will explore their attitudes, expand their knowledge about sustainability issues and apply learned skills within their family and school community.  Students will experience a hands-on approach through the design and continual development of Merici’s new vegetable garden, working in collaboration with the canteen to plan and supply produce.
In addition to this, students will develop an understanding of energy and water efficiency, carbon footprints, horticulture and biodiversity and have a significant input into Merici’s sustainable future. Hospitality students will make use of the produce from the garden either in the canteen or in their other classes, also learning more about how food is produced and nutrition through eating healthy fresh food.

sustainabilityWaste management
The school’s Environmental Sustainability Team (EST) have completed a waste audit and a ‘walk through’ of the school to identify places to set up waste stations throughout the school.  These stations will help the school to both manage and reduce the amount of rubbish from Merici going to land fill.  These stations are currently being trialled and will include a waste awareness campaign.

All these steps are helping Merici build a better future for our students, community and the environment.

With thanks to our


  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT)
  • Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
  • Education and Training Directorate
  • ACT Government