The Ontario Trillium Foundation has granted $57,500 to the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve to expand community kitchen opportunities available at the Parry Sound Friendship Centre and the Salvation Army.
Community kitchens help provide access to healthy food in two meaningful ways: through meals and through food skills education.
“Community kitchens bring people together to gain hands-on cooking skills, learn about meal planning, nutrition, and food safety,” said Glenda Clayton, project coordinator. “This grant will help bring six to ten people together to cook on either a weekly or monthly basis and take home both food and knowledge to share with their families.”
This two-year collaborative project is also supported by North Bay Parry Sound Health Unit and District of Parry Sound Social Services Administration Board. It builds on a successful community kitchen pilot program initiated by Salvation Army last year.
“We are delighted to be able to offer more community kitchen programs for our clients and community,” said Heather Murch, senior program services worker. “These programs are a wonderful opportunity for people to get out and share a meal, to improve their cooking skills, to have greater access to nutritious food and ultimately improve their food security and health.”
The Wasa Nabin program at Parry Sound Friendship Centre will focus on teaching youth healthy cooking and gardening skills. Elders will meet monthly at a luncheon called “Congregate Cooking and Dining” to enjoy cooking, sharing recipes and eating together.
“We believe that our elders and youth and our community as a whole will greatly benefit from this project,” says Gail Hall, Friendship Centre executive director. “It helps meet real needs in our community and builds our capacity to offer future food-related programs.”
Local chefs who have a strong interest in community development will also be engaged to help groups develop specific cooking skills. Health professionals, such as dieticians, will be invited to share their knowledge.
Up-coming cooking classes include:
• Monday, March 2, for young people who could use a little help learning their way around the kitchen (10-1 p.m).
Parry Sound Friendship Centre
• Thursday, March 5, for elders who are interested in cooking and dining together (10-1 p.m).
• Wednesday, March 11, for youth (12-18) who would like to gain culinary skills, sample new foods and share their cooking with family.