It’s a Wednesday night and the teaching kitchen at Eden Food for Change is filled with families participating in the KidFit program’s dinner session. Fifteen teams of parents and kids are busy preparing zucchini noodles, homemade pasta sauce, roasted root vegetables, Mason jar salads and other dishes they’ve learned to make using their newly acquired food skills. The KidFit dietitians are providing education through cooking and eating with the families, and tonight’s focus is on having more vegetables on the table.
This hands-on dinner session is one example of the opportunities made possible through the partnership between Eden Food for Change and the KidFit Health and Wellness Clinic at Trillium Health Partners. It all began in the spring of 2016, when the KidFit team and the staff at Eden Food for Change began to discuss different ways they could collaborate.
KidFit, a health and wellness clinic for children ages 2-17 with paediatric obesity, promotes a “health at every size” approach. Through this lens, KidFit focuses on moving your body in a way you enjoy, eating in an intuitive manner, and the belief that every body counts, regardless of shape and size. Eden Food for Change is a community food center that has a mission of “increasing access to good food, developing food skills and encouraging healthy eating”. This goal was aligned with the vision of the KidFit team, whose dietitians were in the beginning stages of building a program to improve food literacy levels.
The resulting seven-week group program takes a practical approach, which allows KidFit families to develop food literacy skills that can be incorporated into their daily lives. The partnership with Eden Food for Change means the KidFit dietitians can offer food literacy education out of a fully equipped teaching kitchen that can accommodate 22 people cooking simultaneously. The program is family-based and allows parents and kids to participate together. KidFit strives to empower families to feel confident in implementing the nutrition education they have received, and this has been made possible largely due to the facilities at Eden Food for Change and their support for experiential, hands-on learning.
In September 2019, the KidFit dietitians will be starting their third round of group programming at Eden Food for Change. To date, KidFit families have provided overwhelmingly positive feedback about their experience participating in the food literacy module. Some of the feedback from the KidFit families includes “love it, kids learn to cook and make healthy food” and “love the practical exposure to real time cooking and sharing knowledge”.
The partnership between Eden Food for Change and the KidFit program continues to grow, as they look at further opportunities to collaborate on the goal of increasing the community’s access to good food and knowledge about food and nutrition. They are in the early stages of an initiative to enhance the “Fresh Produce Box” program at Eden Food for Change by designing handouts on practical ways to use each week’s seasonal produce.
The staff at Eden for Change and the KidFit program are optimistic about the impact their continued partnership could have on increasing food literacy skills among children and youth in the Peel region. They look forward to the future, as they continue to discuss additional partnership opportunities and initiatives to support this goal.