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Comox Valley youth learning where their food comes from
The latest session of LUSH Valley's Young Cooks program culminated last week with a screening of a short film in which the young cooks themselves were stars.
"The film was about the young cooks learning where their food comes from," explains LUSH Valley Food Action Society executive director Cynthia Fitton, noting last week's screening was the first time the young cooks saw the film. "A lot of the footage took place in the Comox Valley; they went on field trips to the farmers' market, they went to a farm, we filmed them when they were in the kitchen … they did some exploration on where their food came from."
Who's Growing My Food? was presented during a program celebration meal, which happens at the end of each Young Cooks session. This session's celebration meal was held Wednesday at Locals restaurant, which focuses on sourcing local ingredients, hence the name.
Owner/chef Ronald St. Pierre says his decision to host the celebratory meal was easy, as he's "very impressed" with the program.
"I thought it was very good to be helping young people in that regard and I think it's a very positive program," says St. Pierre, who donated the entire meal. "The idea was to give the chance to the young people to have some good local food, nicely prepared."
Fitton — who says everyone involved was very thankful for the meal — adds the young cooks also thanked the Canadian Federation of University Women during the celebration.
"They've been volunteering in the program to help produce recipes," continues Fitton. "They've created a couple of (recipe) pamphlets that we're going to be printing and distributing throughout the Valley."
The Recipes for Young Cooks brochures each have a selection of basic recipes, such as breakfast bowls, veggie wraps, soft tacos and individual pizzas.
The North Vancouver Island Chefs Association also attended the celebratory meal because it heard about the things that were going on in the program and it wanted to recognize the young cooks' efforts.
Who's Growing My Food? was created by filmmaker Jordie Robinson, and was made possible thanks to funding from the Comox Valley Global Awareness Network. It can be viewed at www.lushvalley.org/young-cooks.html.
Another Young Cooks session is set to start in April. Participants meet after school one day per week to learn a variety of skills, from gardening, to purchasing, to cooking.
"They get to learn how to do basic recipes, they get to learn about nutrition and they get to do basic budgeting, as well — they get to go on a grocery shop — they go on field trips to farms and the markets and bakeries, different places like that," says Fitton. "So they are getting to make connections in the community with producers and processors."
At the end of each class, each young cook takes a meal home to their family.
The program is open to those aged 10 to 14 who have a passion for cooking and who are from low-income families or families with mental health/substance issues. For more information, contact LUSH Valley at 250-331-0152 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUSH Valley will also offer Young Cooks summer day camps in July and August. Visit www.lushvalley.org for more information.