Drop-in Community Kitchen: Weekly Food Demos

Every Friday after the affordable Good Food Market & Cafe, community members are invited to stay and participate in a food demonstration, a drop-in program where they can watch a new recipe take shape from start to finish.

Last week supporters from Medavie came and helped with the Food Demo. Medavie has generously supported the Dartmouth Family Centre/Dartmouth North Community Food Centre since 2016 and just announced a further $120,000 in funding for Dartmouth Family Centre/Dartmouth North Community Food Centre over the next three years.

Last week supporters from Medavie came and helped with the Food Demo. Medavie has generously supported the Dartmouth Family Centre/Dartmouth North Community Food Centre since 2016 and just announced a further $120,000 in funding for Dartmouth Family Centre/Dartmouth North Community Food Centre over the next three years.

Every week Food Skills Coordinator Melissa Rankin prepares a new recipe like chickpea hummus or homemade sauerkraut and walks through making the dish step-by-step. The recipes usually contain an in-season vegetable or ingredient, often from the market or the Community Food Centre’s very own on-site community farm. At the end of the food demo, everyone gets a sample of the dish to taste.

While it sounds simple, the food demos have a profound impact, because of their accessibility. Because 83% of participants at the Food Centre are living below the poverty line and 76% have one or more chronic illnesses, there isn’t always an opportunity to learn positive food skills.

And the food demos are not only a spectator experience. Participants are able to ask all kinds of questions as the disk is being prepared. “People ask about adapting the recipe, clarification on how to do something, ideas on substitutions, and nutrition information,” says Melissa. And so, the food demos go a long way to helping people build food literacy.

“People might have access to a recipe, but if they don’t know how to interpret it, or what it means to do things like ‘dice an onion’, then they will get stuck,” explains Melissa Rankin. “Through the food demos, I can explain what certain words mean, why certains steps are really important in a recipe, people can ask questions, and these things that are really important for building people’s food skills.”

And food demos can be a stepping stone to so much more, acting as an important entry point for other programming at the Food Centre, or reaching out to volunteers and staff. Each food demo is accessible and low-impact for people who are shy or have social anxiety. In 2018, the Food Centre saw almost 2,000 visits to community kitchen programs, with food demos often being the first that new participants attend.

 “Melissa [the program coordinator] is so kind, and she is good at explaining things,” said one participant. Another said that they “really enjoy the Food Demos, and always try the recipe at home.”

“The food demos help people try new foods.” explains Deborah Dickey, Community Food Centre manager, “If you don’t have a lot of money, why would you take the risk to buy something new that you or kids might not like or know how to cook? But it is really important that people try new things, because having a diversity of foods in your diet is key for overall health.”

Interested in attending a food demo? Drop into the Community Food Centre at 12:15pm on Fridays after the Good Food Market & Cafe. Check out the monthly calendar for more info on scheduling.