Shannon Simpson is passionate about food.
She doesn’t take photos of it or share it on social media, but food is at the heart of everything she does.
Simpson is a holistic nutritionist with a background in therapeutic recreation, but lately, her life has been focused on what goes on the table – most importantly food, and the placemat it sits on.
“All of my life’s experiences came together, and I thought I really need to create a placemat that creates conversations around healthy eating and food. It’s about mindful eating – how do I get kids to pay attention?”
Simpson’s Mindful Meals placemats are a tangible product she hopes that one day can be a part of every school across Canada and even an extension of the Canada Food Guide.
The idea began from her “journey of health” years ago when she was battling cancer a year after she had twins. In the midst of her chemo treatment, her son was diagnosed with autism.
Her family moved to the Comox Valley, and she began working at Huband Park Elementary’s salad bar.
Along with a group of volunteers, Simpson assisted with the growth of the program and quickly became aware of the significant amount of food waste – approximately 13 pounds of veggies every time it was offered to students.
“Thirteen pounds of waste is enough veggies to feed a Comox Valley family for one week. Eating the salad bar is one thing, but having education and food literacy is another.”
Simpson combined the idea of food literacy along with an old placemat of a world map she purchased for her son along with her health experience into her Mindful Meals placement.
The double-sided colourful laminated placemat, which is available in English and French, encourages kids to slow down and pay attention to the food they eat.
“They are made with teachers, parents, grandparents and kids in mind to have conversations at the table. We need to connect kids with their food by slowing down, practicing gratitude and using all their senses to fully enjoy their food.”
She believes her passion for health and mindful nutrition grew from her battle with cancer.
“When you fight for your life – not knowing if you’re going to be there for your kids – everything matters. A lot of people think they’re invincible. We need to know it’s our responsibility to be mindful of taking care of ourselves. In the long term, we need to exercise, eat good food, surround ourselves with good people and we need to cry once in a while.
“I’m a little person with big ideas to change the world one child at a time.”
Simpson is selling the placemats, which were locally created, for $14.99 each. She is selling them at The Little Village Store – Cumberland, Rawthentic, Blue Spruce Ice Cream, Podlings and Courtenay Country Market, but they can also be purchased directly from her. Visit www.wholehealthfamilywellness.ca for more information.