Kitchen Equipment for NWT Schools
The Food First Foundation supports food and nutrition education programs in schools across the NWT. The NWT has the second highest prevalence of food insecurity of any province or territory in Canada. In the NWT, 30% of children live in a food-insecure household.
Schools are key in providing students in need with meals and snacks, Monday to Friday, and ensuring they have full bellies and focused minds ready to learn. In order for schools to operate their programs as efficiently as possible, they need the right equipment in their school kitchens. We hear from schools that the larger sources of funding they receive for their food programs can only be put towards food itself, leaving them in a bind if their oven goes, or their fridge breaks down, or they just need to replace a blender or purchase a couple new frying pans...
Not only do schools feed their vulnerable students, but they also teach students valuable kitchen skills through cooking classes. The lessons learned range from food budgeting skills to food preparation skills to the basics of nutrition; teaching students how to feed themselves and others as they move into adulthood. These classes require basic kitchen equipment to be able to operate; however, this equipment is well-used by many student groups, and must be replaced over time.
Finally, schools are often hubs for community events, such as community feasts. A well-stocked kitchen allows for students to put their skills to the test, cooking for their community members, and in doing so, creating a welcoming atmosphere in the school. This helps to build healthy connections between the schools and the community.
Providing schools with the means to purchase the necessary equipment to fully stock their kitchens is essential to their food programs and provides immeasurable benefits to the students who attend, along with the families who are in need of support and the broader community.
Who Will it Benefit?
The main benefits to having a fully-equipped school kitchen is the improvement of school food programs. Better equipment means increased efficiency in food preparation, increased capability to store and serve fresh foods, and improved ability to store frozen foods (which is important when batch cooking, translating to a time savings). A well-stocked kitchen also means that cooking classes will run more smoothly and can involve more students in learning in a hands-on manner.
The primary beneficiaries are the students; both students accessing the breakfast, lunch, and snack programs, and the students who will benefit from having the necessary kitchen equipment to learn basic kitchen skills during cooking classes at school.
Teachers will also benefit. Many breakfast, lunch, and snack programs are run by school staff. If we can help make the food preparation process more efficient, teachers will have more time to put into their teaching.