CHOW DOWN COOKING CLASSES
The Chow Down Cooking Classes will be a series of 24 weekly classes held at the Cowichan Green Community’s commercial kitchen located in downtown Duncan on Vancouver Island. These classes will be offered free to members of the community who are in the lower socio-economic status and who are facing barriers to accessing nutritious, healthy, local food.
This program builds on the success of a previous family cooking class program that was offered as part of the KinPark Family Drop in program funded by the Community Action Initiative. This program was hugely successful with most weekly classes over-subscribed with long wait lists. Over time, using various registration methods, an online Facebook group was formed, and classes would fill within minutes of being posted.
When the classes wrapped up in June 2016, all the families were sincerely disappointed and the majority of them have been anxiously waiting for CGC to be able to offer the program again.
Here are some anecdotes from some of the previous participants:
“John was soooo happy to go back to cooking class! He has ADHD and sometimes be quite a challenge but he has improved greatly at cooking class as far as staying put, listening, trying to follow directions. It’s been really great for him and I just love that this program is available!” – Cooking Class participant
“Wow thanks so much for another tasty fun class. Highly recommended cauliflower crust pizza. Really hoping this incredible program will continue next fall” – Cooking Class participant
“I hope the last class went well & that this amazing program will continue in the fall” – Cooking Class participant
“Need to have more classes. Great way to meet other families and learn new cooking techniques” – Cooking Class participant
The overall goals of this program are:
- engage families who face multiple barriers including First Nations and recent immigrants
- create safe, inclusive, and welcoming space free of judgement or barriers
- provide access to nutritious food and to provide a greater level of understanding on how all the foods and drinks we consume affect our health
- increase understanding of how to adjust recipes to increase their nutritional value – take family favourites and make minor adjustments to reduce reliance on meat, dairy, sugar, and unhealthy fats
- make classes fun and engaging and provide child minding, this reduces barriers for most of the families. By keeping children in, or close to, the kitchen action is important for their learning and understanding of where their food comes from. In our experience, children who are engaged with preparing the food are more likely to eat it and enjoy it!
- provide nutritious and vegetarian and/or vegan recipes and teach food safe procedures, meal planning, nutrition, budgeting, and specific cooking skills (ie: knife skills, knowledge of cooking utensils, different methods of preparing, different uses and purposes of grains, veggies, fruits, herbs and spices).
Overall the anticipated outcomes will include:
- 100% of participants will have increased knowledge of nutrition and the positive effects of healthy eating
- 100% of participants will increase basic kitchen skills – knife skills etc
- 100% of participants will increase social connections
- 80% of participants will improve cooking habits and skills at home
- 80% of participants will try new recipes at home
- 60% of participants will increase participation by sharing their own recipes and/or leading a class
This work was supported by a grant from NutritionLink Services Society.