Community Spotlight: The Stop CFC After School Program

Yorkshire Valley Farms is proud to support The Stop Community Food Centre in their work to increase access to healthy food in a manner that maintains dignity, builds health and community and challenges inequality. YVF provides funding for The Stop’s After-School Program (ASP), which engages children aged 8 to 12 (grades 3 to 6) in fun, hands-on activities around growing, cooking, and encouraging positive attitudes towards healthy eating. In addition to the ASP, The Stop runs weeklong March Break and Summer Food Camps.

As we head into March Break, we spoke with Kathe Rogers and Kanaka Kulendran of The Stop about the ASP program, the upcoming March Break Camp, and what chicken recipes the kids have been learning.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the ASP program?
The goals of the After-School program (and the March Break and Summer Food Camp programs) are to build voice, develop critical-thinking skills, and engage around food skills and food issues using an anti-oppression/anti-racist framework of education. Children participate in food skills training (cooking and nutrition), growing/gardening, and activities related to food systems. This is our 5th year. There are 16 children per session.

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What are some of the activities you have planned for this year’s March Break Camp?
• Daily cooking session that involves the children preparing and cooking their meal
• Gardening activities that include worm bin care, soil screening, and starting seedlings
• Creating and recording/filming PSAs
• Shopping and cooking breakfast on an Ontario Works budget
• Food stories workshops

Can you share a great ‘food moment’ that expresses the impact of the work of the ASP?
In the past year, we have begun encouraging the children to build their leadership skills within the program. Just yesterday, we had a participant share her food story and personal connections to a favourite family dish. Not only did she share her story and knowledge, she taught us how to make the dish from beginning to end. By the end of the session, all of the participants were excited to introduce recipes and stories with the hopes of having a chance to step up and lead a cooking session.

We’re obviously big fans of organic chicken here at Yorkshire Valley Farms. Can you share some of the ways the kids are learning about cooking with chicken?
We have made a number of culturally diverse recipes as part of our food pride series. A number of them have included chicken as an ingredient, including Jerk Chicken, Lemongrass Chicken, and Chicken Soup.

You can learn more about The Stop Community Food Centre on their website at thestop.org

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Photo credits: The Stop Community Food Centre/Zoe Alexopoulos

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