It's 3:30 pm on a Tuesday afternoon and the kitchen at the Dartmouth North Community Food Centre is a hive of activity. Eager children are racing through the door, peeling off their coats as they come in from the cold. Sleeves are rolled up, aprons are tied, hands are washed...these kids are keen to get cooking. Among the parents dropping off their kids is Melissa, a busy mother of four; Chloe (11), twins Skye and Isaiah (8) and five-year-old Kaylee. Her oldest three kids are all participants in the Community Food Centre's "Young Cooks" program, which teaches school-aged kids how to prepare healthy and delicious meals in a relaxed, fun environment.
"My kids love this place", says Melissa. "They can't wait to make things from scratch and they love the fact that it's so hands on." Melissa goes on to say that her eldest, Chloe, has an adventurous spirit when it comes to cooking, always ready to try new foods and is eager to learn new methods of preparing meals. The twins need a bit more encouragement to sample new fare, but Melissa says that since their enrolment in the Young Cooks, all of her kids have taken a greater interest in their own kitchen at home. They want to participate in their own meal prep, not just stirring, but measuring, pouring, following a recipe.
"Chloe has developed her own little recipe book with ones she has collected from the Centre and new ones that she has discovered in her own", said Melissa. She continued, "The kids had the best time making their own fresh pasta!" Along with a discovery of new foods, Melissa says her children are learning how to work safely and efficiently in the kitchen. Hand washing and sanitizing are always top priority in their kitchen at home and learning how to follow and execute a recipe is a fun challenge.
Melissa is thrilled that her kid's confidence has grown in the kitchen environment and she is grateful to the Centre and its staff in providing such a beneficial program to families in her community.