Community Kitchens Vernon

Interested in Funding Community Kitchens? Please read on...

Description of the Project

A community kitchen is a group of people who get together on a regular basis to cook healthy, nutritious, meals. From recipe selection, to shopping, cooking, and clean-up, everyone participates. Within the groups, participants find fun, friendships, and the tools to stretch heir food dollars. The food that is prepared is divided among group members to take home.

Explain the Current Situation and Need that Exists

Many members of our community do not have the knowledge or skills required for cooking nutritious food on a budget. Besides being a basic life skill, cooking can create a feeling of accomplishment and pleasure. Cooking can also be a springboard to other benefits such as improved health and wellbeing and increased social connections. For those on a tight budget, cooking can be a lot cheaper and tastier than eating out. Community Kitchens gives people a welcoming place to learn these skills.

 

 ‘Food security is an issue that has been brought to the forefront of our communities with economic downturn in recent years. At a recent meeting organized by the Emergency Food Action Team in Vernon (Feb 2011), a need for even more community kitchens was identified showing the demand for this program.’

Linda Boyd, Interior Health, Nov 22, 2011  

‘More than 1100 people are being assisted through the Food Bank's programs each month.                               

  November 9, 2011, http://vernonbcfoodbank.com/

 

In a recent Community Kitchens survey, participants were asked what barriers they faced when cooking.  Here are some of those results:

27% I don’t have basic equipment or ingredients (cutting boards, knives, spices)

31% I don’t have enough recipe/meal ideas         

22% I don’t have enough money to buy groceries

 

Issues that will be Addressed

Issue 1- Cooking Skills

Basic cooking skills are taught by the chefs with Community Kitchens. They guide participants through a variety of cooking skills and techniques (poaching, baking, roasting, chopping, etc). Each month they consider recipes that are easy to make, and easy to replicate at home. Recipes handouts are created for participants to take recipes home as well.

 

Issue 2- Cooking on a Budget

Cooking on a budget can be difficult. Chefs provide suggestions on how to build an efficient pantry with staples like flour, spices, etc that can be used in many dishes. As well, groups discuss using local food sources such as farmer’s markets, the good food box and other local suppliers. Participants also get the chance to share any helpful budget tips they may have as well.

 

Issue 3- Health of Community Members

Health is an issue for us all. Eating well is a very important part of healthy living. Community kitchens aims to teach participants about healthy cooking- food shopping, label reading, recipe selection, facts about fast food and so on.

 

Issue 4- Feeling Isolated

Community kitchens are interactive sessions with a small group of people coming together. This provides a social setting where participants get the chance to visit with others while cooking together.

Key Project Objectives (what, how, when & where)

Community Kitchens objectives:

  1. To teach simple recipes that can be easily replicated at home
  2. To share budgeting ideas for spending less money on quality food
  3. To improve the health of participants
  4. To meet new people

Who is it for?

This project helps single parents, seniors, young parents, clients of the mental health system who live independently, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and people who access the food bank regularly.

 

Where is it held?

Community Kitchens are held in Vernon, Armstrong, Cherryville, Enderby and Salmon Arm.

How long is a session?

Sessions are about 3 hours long and run once or twice a month (depending on the community).

 

Where do you shop for the groceries?

Whenever possible we try to eat locally to save money, and in some areas the groups grow food in community gardens. Chefs use the Good Food box, farmers markets and local farmers whenever possible as well.

 

Is there a cost?

It is free to participate. The only cost is for food orders- it is $1 per portion. We phone or email participants in advance to let them know the menu so they can pre-order 

Evaluation

How will you measure your success?

Survey Comments

Number of participants returning

Feedback from organizations that recommend Community Kitchens (such as Interior Health, Pregnancy Outreach, Foodbank)

 

How many people will benefit from this project?

Last year we taught over 330 people in the North Okanagan.

Letter of Support from Interior Health

November 22, 2011  

To Whom It May Concern: 

 

I am writing this letter in support of North Okanagan Community Kitchens.  I have been involved with this program for the past five years of its twenty year history and can attest to the value it adds to our communities.  The lack of cooking skills and knowledge is putting the next generation of parent and their families at risk for poor nutrition as they rely on unhealthy packaged food that takes up a disproportionate amount of their food budget. Many of today’s parents will be unable to pass cooking and food preservation skills down to their children. Ignoring this problem now will result in an increased burden on the health care system in the future.

 

Health professionals such as dietitians and social workers have come to rely on community kitchens as a reliable place to refer clients who need to learn to cook on a budget to help manage their physical or mental health issues.  Those with limited income and lack of food preparation skills are both at increased risk for, and unable to manage their chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease. Seniors are benefiting from Community Kitchens because of the social connections the group provides and because they are  going home with meals for the freezer to pull out on days when their energy or health may affect their desire to cook a balanced meal.   

 

Food security is an issue that has been brought to the forefront of our communities with economic downturn in recent years.  At a recent meeting organized by the Emergency Food Action Team in Vernon (Feb 2011), a need for even more community kitchens was identified showing the demand for this program. 

 

Community kitchens has strong community connections and is well integrated with other food security efforts in our community such as community gardens, the Good Food Box and the Food Action Society of the North Okanagan.  As a community nutritionist, I am committed to continuing to provide support to community kitchens, even though Interior Health funding will not continue. 

 

Your support as a funding partner would be much appreciated.

Sincerely,

Linda Boyd, RD

Food Security and Community Nutrition

Interior Health

 

Registered Charity CRA

Community Kitchens is run under the Literacy and Youth Initiatives Society of the North Okanagan and our registered Charity number is 897397154 RR 0001

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