It's no secret that fast food is unhealthy. Containing exorbitant amounts of salt, oil, fats and sugars, eating these foods has contributed to our societies' battle with obesity. Statistics Canada reported in 2012 that over 465,000 Canadian Youth were identified as overweight or obese. Part of the reason for this epidemic of obesity falls squarely on the shoulders of fast food, which has become a mainstay for many families.
Getting kids hooked on healthy food, not fast food, is the raison d'etre of Project CHEF. Since its inception in 2008, Project CHEF has worked with nearly 8,200 students, in 92 elementary schools in Vancouver, teaching two classes per week that focus on preparing healthy food.
Led by Head Chef and Director Barb Finley, Project CHEF demonstrates cooking one recipe at a time. Electric stovetops and kitchen supplies are brought into the classroom for student's use. Once the demonstration has been completed, students are given the opportunity to try their own hand at preparing the cuisine. This allows students to learn about the full cycle of the food as well as the social aspects of sharing a meal.
"The most powerful way we can change what children eat is by engaging them with food," says Finley.
The program has been a success, she says, because the children love the food they are preparing. In one lesson, a comparison between homemade Minestrone versus packaged soup was done. In the end the children agreed that homemade soup tasted better, looked better and was more fun to make.
Finley says it isn't just culinary skills that are being honed. Working with Project CHEF also boast several educational benefits including: sharpening reading and comprehension skills when reading recipes, mathematics for calculating recipes, as well as cultural lessons when cooking international cuisine.
For more information about Project CHEF, CLICK HERE