Seasonal Cooking, Healthful Living Program
Description of Program:
We would like to incorporate the Food Bank’s Community Learning Garden into one of our programs, so we have designed the Seasonal Cooking, Healthful Living program. It will consist of using some of our garden produce and offering cooking classes to our clients, with the aid of crockpots and blenders, to introduce seasonal, healthy cooking concepts. The design of this program would be flexible, its intent being to assist low-income clients learn to successfully prepare healthful, low-cost meals for themselves and/or their families. The program is versatile, as it can be tailored to suit many demographics: seniors, low income families, single parents, clients facing health issues, and varied ethnic groups. Participants are given the education, demonstrations, supports and ingredients to successfully prepare healthful, low-cost meals for themselves and family members in a food-safe manner. The program will provide a non-threatening group setting in which new social support networks can develop. It will also offer a comfortable environment for sharing of information and ideas during discussions. It should facilitate increased self-esteem so participants are better able to cope with some of the stressors that affect people with low incomes. It should also help foster a belief in their own skills and capabilities to promote positive behaviour change, leading to increased food security. The 9-month long program will follow the seasons, starting with Autumn and end the following Summer. In the warmer months, the classes will start at the Community Learning Garden, allowing participants to pick some of the necessary ingredients and then will be transported to a local commercial kitchen, where the rest of the instruction will take place. By the end of the program, participants will have their own crockpot, blender, a book of useful nutritional information and recipes, a bag of kitchen tools and the confidence knowing they have improved their health and their lives.
Who Will it Benefit?
Who will Benefit from Program:
In 2018, the Okotoks Food Bank distributed 1,422 hampers to 2,474 adults and 1,758 children through our regular Hamper Program from January to December. The Christmas Hamper Program was in great demand again as we distributed 243 Christmas Food Hampers.
The needs in our area changed slightly with the total hamper distribution down by 4% to the previous year, and the 2018 statistics for the ‘Help Yourself Shelves’ were up by 11% and Christmas hampers up 5%, as compared with 2017. These numbers help to confirm the latest social policy trends in that the average duration of unemployment in Alberta has nearly tripled over the past 10 years. This is life-changing for families affected; they must deal with loss of income, and the longer periods of unemployment can make it increasingly difficult to find re-employment. This latter effect suggests the possibility of a permanently higher need for social assistance going forward.
The Seasonal Cooking, Healthful Living Program is versatile, as it can be tailored to suit many demographics: seniors, low income families, single parents, clients facing health issues, and varied ethnic groups. Participants are given the education, demonstrations, supports and ingredients to successfully prepare healthful, low-cost meals for themselves and family members in a food-safe manner.