Investing in healthy futures for children and youth

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Four organizations from across Canada receive $25,000 to propel innovative food programs in low-income communities

We are pleased to announce the recipients of our new funding program for innovative child and youth food programs. Awarding a total of $100,000 to four community food organizations across Canada, the $25,000 grants will support recipients to develop, implement, and share innovative programs that use food as a way to build long-term health in children of different ages.

The 2015 grantees are Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House (Vancouver, BC), LUSH Valley Food Action Society (Courtenay, BC), the Nishnawabe Aski Nation (Thunder Bay/Wapekeka, ON), and Loving Spoonful (Kingston, ON).

Grantees have been selected from among the 75 Good Food Organizations (GFOs) who have aligned themselves with CFCC based on shared principles, and who are working with low-income communities to grow, cook, share, and advocate for good food. Through the program, organizations strive to support individuals and communities to be healthier through the power of food. The GFO initiative offers all members — e.g. community health centres, social service agencies, food banks and family centres — supports and information that will increase their capacity to offer solid programming.

Research has shown that it is critical to reach young people when they are still forming their tastes and attitudes around food. From getting their hands dirty in the garden to making meals from scratch in a kitchen, staff at our partner Community Food Centres regularly affirm that it’s quite easy to get kids excited about food and have a significant impact in their lives in the process. With so many organizations testing out innovative approaches to inspire kids, we are happy to be able to help fuel these four exciting projects, examine their impacts, and share their learnings with others.

The Child and Youth Innovation fund is the second grant stream to be launched by Community Food Centres Canada, building on the five $50,000 Good Food Grants that were awarded earlier this year to catalyze organizational transformation. In the coming year, new funding opportunities supporting FoodFit, CFCC’s healthy eating and exercise program, will be launched. All three grant streams are open only to Good Food Organizations and/or Community Food Centres.  

Read on for profiles of the 2015 Child and Youth Innovation Grantees:

Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House (Vancouver, BC)

A multi-faceted space fostering supports for families, newcomers, and seniors in Vancouver’s east end, Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House is using this grant to build on their already extensive suite of child and youth programming. Funding will help launch the EAT Team (Eat Think Act) project wherein 15-24 year olds cultivate their kitchen talents, build their food system wisdom, and hone their leadership skills over a three month session. Once they complete the program, the youth are invited to then co-lead a food- and health literacy-focused after school program for younger kids. It’s an opportunity to flex their leadership skills — from program planning to execution — with support from staff mentors.

Loving Spoonful (Kingston, ON)

Since 2008 Loving Spoonful has been making waves in Kingston through their many volunteer-supported programs. Their proven track record of running engaging community kitchens, community gardens, and various food reclamation and preservation programs has made their youth programming along these lines a success. Through this grant, they will launch Cook, Camera, Action — a three cohort program wherein youth prepare healthy meals and learn about food issues using film-making as a platform to share their culinary know-how. From meal planning to preparation, each round of 12-15 youth will make a series of easy, affordable, and healthy meals captured on film with the support of a local film maker. Sharing the videos through local media networks will make them an accessible resource for those seeking simple cooking tips from fresh faces.

LUSH Valley Food Action Society (Courtenay, BC)

After three successful years of running their popular Young Cooks program for youth who act as caregivers to parents with mental health issues/dual diagnosis, this grant will enable LUSH Valley to develop a wider range of age-tailored food programming. Dad’s Night Out will welcome fathers and their kids (age three and up) for a series of cooking sessions. Food Frenzy (for 11-18 year olds) will be a weekly session where up to fifty youth who do not receive consistent meals at home can come enjoy a healthy meal cooked by their peers. Chef for a Day is a six-session kitchen skills training course for adolescents that culminates in a trip to commercial kitchen where they prepare a meal with a local chef. Finally, the Food-e Academy integrates cooking, gardening, and food system learning in 16 one-day intensives and a one-week summer camp for high school aged youth.

Nishnawabe Aski Nation (Thunder Bay, ON)

With numerous food security programs already offered across this large northern Ontario First Nations territory, funding from CFCC will support the Wapekeka First Nation to run a year-long program for school aged children and youth using experiential activities to develop gardening skills, hone traditional practices of hunting, preparing/eating forest and fresh water foods, and exchange teachings on the importance of caring for the land and people. Approximately 100 children and youth from the community will have the opportunity to learn from elders how to hunt and gather. They will learn to set traps, prepare pelts, stay safe in all conditions, and prepare and preserve traditional foods. Knowledge sharing will be woven throughout in the form of video, photography, and intergenerational storytelling. An ongoing partnership with the University of Ottawa, will enable researchers to measure the health outcomes realized as a result of increased physical activity and consumption of locally grown and harvested traditional foods as part of the overall community food initiatives.

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