Thanks to an Ontario Trillium Fund Seed Grant, Kawartha Lakes Food Source (KLFS) has started a Community Kitchen program.
This new program is an opportunity for clients of the Lindsay Community Food Market (a non-traditional food bank owned and operated by KLFS) to grow more engaged in their community and strengthen their food literacy.
Food literacy refers to the skills or ability to use ingredients to prepare healthy, affordable meals, and understand the economic, social, and environmental benefits of doing so. By hosting cooking classes, facilitating a collective kitchen, and providing opportunities for safe food handling training, the program aims to improve the food skills, budgeting, sustainability, and employability of participants.
The cooking class portion of the program will operate in courses which are five weeks long each. In these sessions, KLFS staff and volunteers will provide the ingredients and coaching to make one meal each week. Each course will carry a different theme such as cooking for one, cooking with kids, vegetarian cooking, and cooking with limited equipment.
This piece of the program is currently taking place virtually, with hopes that it will soon be able to transition to in person classes. Aside from cooking, the classes will provide opportunity for conversations on meal planning, meal budgeting, how to source affordable nutritious food, and how to substitute food items in recipes.
Alongside the cooking classes, the Community Kitchen program will facilitate a collective kitchen. This is an opportunity for clients of the Lindsay Community Food Market to prepare meals together. A portion of the meals made will be distributed amongst those who prepared it, and a portion will also be put into inventory of the food bank for other community members to enjoy. The collective kitchen is an opportunity for clients to collaboratively learn, cook, and make community connections.
In addition to the two in-kitchen parts of the program, KLFS will also cover the costs and support clients to become certified in safe food handling through our local health unit. This not only allows clients to learn safe food practices but increases their employability skills.
“Typically, food banks have a higher supply of ingredients rather than ready-to-eat food. The Food Literacy Program aims to teach clients how to use staple ingredients in the kitchen,” says Emma Wood, the Community Kitchen Coordinator. “Our goal is to have clients confident in their ability to use and substitute ingredients and adjust recipes to use what they have in their pantry.”