Rice a popular lunchtime treat

Enjoying their rice bowl lunch St Joseph’s students (from left), nine-year-olds Marielle Hastie, Chloe Prendergast, Pearl Arrowsmith and Tegan Marriott.
Photos Sue Newman

When it comes to lunchtime at St Joseph’s School, a healthy helping of hot rice is the food of choice for many students.

And while the rice bowl lunchtime may have started to accommodate the food preferences of the school’s growing number of Filipino students, it’s proved a winner across all nationalities, principal Cath Blacklow said.

Filipino students now make up 22 per cent of the school roll and for those 59 students, rice is a normal lunchtime food.

With no heating facilities at school, the students were bringing cold rice in their lunch boxes.

“We decided we could do a whole lot better and decided we’d provide cooked rice.

“We bought one rice cooker and it was so popular we had to buy a second and the numbers are now creeping up to around 40 students every day,” she said.

The rice is served plain.

Rice bowls were about more than catering to the needs of Filipino students, however, Blacklow said.

“It’s about inclusiveness, showing it’s okay to eat rice regardless of your nationality.”

At just $1 per week for a daily rice bowl, the hot lunch is affordable for all students and come winter, she anticipates numbers choosing the option will soar.

Meeting the growing demand for rice bowls isn’t left to chance, with students placing their names on the list in the morning if they want to line up with their bowl and spoon at noon.

For the school’s seniors, the lunch service provides an opportunity to be part of a mini catering team. They cook and serve the rice each day.

Students are required to bring their own bowl and spoon as part of St Joseph’s zero rubbish policy in lunch boxes, Blacklow said.

– By Sue Newman