People and programs 11/20/2020
On National Child Day, understanding the importance of good food and food literacy to a child’s development are top of mind for Community Food Centres Canada. We’d like to share with you some of the key issues - and opportunities - for the next generation.

Before the pandemic, 1.15 million children in this country lived in a household struggling with food insecurity. That’s one in every six kids who might have skipped breakfast, or who didn’t have a packed lunch in their bag for school.

Since the onset of COVID-19, unemployment rates have soared and even more families are struggling to make ends meet and put good food on the table for themselves and their kids. At the same time, school and childcare closures has led to families missing out on the meal programs that helped stretch their food budgets further.

As a society, we need to invest in upstream solutions that ensure every child has the chance to build food skills and knowledge. It’s essential for healthy communities.

Lost opportunities in the kitchen cost kids their health

Research shows that kids growing up in food-insecure households have fewer opportunities to develop cooking or gardening skills. Parents are less likely to have the time or money to buy fresh ingredients and cook meals together as a family.

The same goes for gardening. In order to teach kids how to seed, grow, and harvest their own food, parents need both the space and time to build a garden—two things that are hard to come by when you’re struggling to cover the rent.

That lack of access to healthy food and food skills for kids can lead to serious health consequences later in life. According to research from Pediatrics and the Journal of Affective Disorders, without enough healthy food throughout the day, kids are more likely to have trouble concentrating on tasks, be hyperactive, and experience mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Teaching kids food literacy sets them up for healthy habits

Community Food Centres Canada funds interactive programs that help counter the health risks of food insecurity. The programs take place in communities across Canada, where kids learn hands-on cooking and gardening skills and develop healthy relationships with food.

This year, COVID restrictions have prevented young people from meeting up at their Community Food Centres to get their hands dirty in the kitchen. But our amazing partners at Mount Paul CFC, Nelson CFC, and The Table CFC are helping kids stay connected and keep their skills fresh with at-home recipe kits for families.

Each kit contains a healthy recipe along with all the ingredients to prepare it for the whole family. Some of the Food Skills Coordinators at the centres have even started up their own virtual cooking shows on YouTube, allowing the kids to follow along at home. It’s like a community-centred celebrity chef.

Little ones from Kamloops to Perth are having fun whipping up new and delicious healthy meals in their own kitchens, and sharing photos of the end results. On the menu this month? Spanakopita, Caesar salad, and more.

We are thrilled to support these programs and see healthy, happy kids thrive in communities across Canada. The health of future generations depends on it.