A new program piloted through the Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops focuses on teaching kids how to read food labels, cook healthy snacks and engage in the foods they eat.
Kid Food Nation, a 10-week after-school cooking program for kids at the John Tod Centre, launched in April.
The pilot continues in October, with a third session planned in 2019, courtesy a $10,000 grant from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.
Kids are outfitted with aprons and tackle their fear of vegetables as a group, learning how to read recipes and create food budgets and grocery lists.
They tour a grocery store, present on food they’ve made to family and leave the program with a cook book.
“Even something simple like salad dressing can be filled with sugar,” said agency school age programs leader Jen Cleaveley.
“Teaching them how to make a basic salad dressing from scratch, you could see how proud they were of what they’d done.”
The program is first offered to Boys and Girls Club members, followed by invitations to the general public.
Demand is high, with just 10 spaces available per session.
Organizers have already filled up their spaces for the fall session and Cleaveley has heard positive feedback from family.
One boy with autism struggled with the texture of some foods.
“This was the place that changed what he was willing to try because he was invested in it because he made it,” Cleaveley said.
“He did it because he was on a team with his friends.”
Cleaveley foresees the program expanding one day depending on future demand, but noted the financial barrier.
Donors don’t often give money for staffing, but that’s what it would largely take to grow such a program.
Two staff members are needed for the 10-kid groups.
“There’s not a lot of people that want to donate specifically to that,” Cleaveley said.
The Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops serves 125 kids daily through its breakfast program and 65 kids daily after school.
The John Tod Centre is at 150 Wood St. on the North Shore.