In order to develop young people’s dietary independence of, many pro-active community groups have developed projects tied into the Québec Education Program or offered as an extracurricular activity.
Offered in the schools of the Pierre-De Saurel Regional County Municipality (Montérégie region), the Ateliers Je suis capable (I can do it workshops) are intended for elementary school students and aim to develop self-esteem, independence, and various competencies, including those related to cooking and gardening. Over the course of the activities, the students learn to prefer foods that taste good and are healthy, affordable and, if possible, produced locally. The program solicits the collaboration of parents, school staff, health practitioners, the municipalities, and local producers.
Thanks to a collaborative effort between the organization La Chaudronnée and the Lévis en Forme collective, some 2400 students can now benefit from cooking workshops in their elementary and secondary schools, as well as in their childcare services. Supported by Québec en Forme, among others, the Je cuisine à l’école (I cook at school) project universally targets schools in the neighbourhoods of Lévis where the disadvantage index is highest.
For pictures of young people in action, visit the Lévis en Forme Facebook page.
Jeunes Pousses offers the Un trésor dans mon jardin (A treasure in my garden) program intended for children attending daycare or elementary school. The cultivation of a vegetable garden, which is at the heart of the program, leads children to discover the pleasure of healthy eating by showing them where food comes from and awakening their curiosity for wholesome foods.
La Tablée des Chefs coordinates in particular the Ateliers du Frère Toc, a culinary training program for 12- to 17-year-olds geared to developing dietary independence. The organization also runs the Brigades culinaires project, which groups secondary school students into kitchen brigades to learn to cook and meet culinary challenges within the framework of friendly contests.
Les ateliers cinq épices developed the Programme d’art culinaire, d’alimentation et de nutrition (PACAN), a cooking, food, and nutrition program deployed across the eight years of elementary school (4- to 12-year-olds) by the Petits cuistots/Parents en réseaux (PC-PR) project. In the course of cooking and nutrition workshops, the children experience different learning situations tied into the Québec Education Program.
The fruit of a collaborative effort between the Government of New Brunswick and the Healthy Eating Physical Activity Coalition of New Brunswick, the CHEFS! program proposes different activities, each about 90 minutes long, aimed at developing the food and cooking competencies of 8- to 12-year-olds. Including theoretical notions and course outlines, CHEFS! is available for free online.
These activities are currently offered piece by piece and deployed only in certain schools and regions of Quebec that have set this type of intervention as a priority.
For more promising initiatives of the sort, see the report Improving Cooking and Food Preparation Skills – A Profile of Promising Practices in Canada and Abroad published by Health Canada in 2010.
Contact Anne-Marie Morel, Nutrition Policy Project Manager:
A committee of experts formed by the Weight Coalition formulated three recommendations to create the conditions to enable Quebec schools to offer all young people the opportunity to develop their food and cooking competencies and experience the pleasure of healthy eating.