Local food program for children develops expansion strategy to address Private Member’s Bill 216 and the United Nation’s call for help on World Food Day
London, ON – Growing Chefs! is opening a new programming space, located at The Grove at The Western Fair District, and will help to address our long project waitlists by significantly expanding The School Food Education Project to over 10,000 students annually.
As a proven, well-documented food literacy program, Growing Chefs! provides a model for success in teaching children self-sufficiency through food and in helping provide kindergarten to Grade 12 students with hands-on experiences in food production, preparation, consumption and waste management. With its revised, scalable strategy, Growing Chefs! at The Grove has positioned itself to help more children understand and respond to local, national, and global food challenges. The program provides students with opportunities to directly observe where our food comes from, how our food choices positively and negatively impact our health, our local economies and the environment and how to make their own informed decisions. London and area teachers whose students have participated in the Growing Chefs! program offer high praise. One London educator said, “Such an awesome experience! Not only were students totally engaged in the instructional pieces they were thrilled to be able to prepare the food themselves!” Another teacher said, “The program allowed them to experience being independent thinkers and problem solvers with a real life, hands on experience!”
In anticipation of the brand new programming space, Andrew Fleet, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Growing Chefs! says, “Growing Chefs! Ontario is passionate about improving food literacy and food education programming across Ontario. We are uniquely situated as a provincial food education leader due to our extensive experience designing and delivering curriculum linked, evidence-based food literacy programming as well as our innovative and self-sustaining business model. We believe our operational and financial model could be replicable across the province and help us to change the way we approach food literacy programming and help children, youth, families and the greater community learn about and develop healthy relationships with food.”
The Middlesex London Food Policy Council (MLFPC) recently collaborated on a curriculum project with Growing Chefs! Benjamin Hill, Chair, MLFPC says, “Helping to teach and support a healthy and sustainable relationship with food, and with the local agri-food system, is one of the most important tasks of the Middlesex London Food Policy Council. Growing Chefs! is a national leader in delivering this type of programming and we are very pleased to be able to support their educational and outreach activities in the London Middlesex community. It is important everyday, but particularly on World Food Day as we look toward the agri-food systems we want to have someday, to remember that those future agri-food systems are being built now through how we teach food literacy and foster the development of the food relationships and eating habits in today’s children.”
Greg Blanchard, Western Fair District’s Communication Director stated, “that for some time our two organizations have collectively had a goal of reaching more students through our respective educational programming. A dream of eventually establishing an onsite education facility at The Grove at Western Fair District with the Growing Chefs! team has been on the vision board for a long time. We are so proud of Andrew and his team and what they have achieved so far, and we are looking forward to what can be achieved in agri-food education within the Grove.”
All three organizations are excited about the future. As Canada implements its first, national food policy, and Bill 216 works its way through the legislature, Growing Chefs! Ontario is positioned to provide a working example of an evidence-based, scalable project model for inclusion in the National School Food Program. The FAO’s World Food Day theme is, ‘Grow, nourish, sustain. Together”. Every action counts—kids can make a big difference now and in the future. Growing Chefs! Ontario is on track to make sure it happens.
About Growing Chefs!:
Growing Chefs! Ontario is a registered charity based in London, Ontario, that for 12+ years has been creating and providing innovative hands-on cooking and food literacy programming for schools, children, youth and families. Our projects have been offered in partnership with over 100 schools and dozens of community organizations across London and area, reaching over 35,000 children and youth. More information can be found at: https://growingchefsontario.ca/about
About The Grove at The Western Fair District:
The Grove is Western Fair District’s new agribusiness hub where participants share resources, space, and connections to create the right conditions for innovation, education, and growth. Western Fair Association’s broad objective as a not-for-profit Agricultural Society is to be a leader of Canadian Agriculture Societies, supporting the Agriculture Community with programming and facilities that help meet the business needs of this sector while at the same time providing innovative educational experiences for today’s consumer.
About Middlesex London Food Policy Council
The Middlesex London Food Policy Council works with the community to sustain a healthy, safe, equitable and ecologically responsible local food system, that nourishes all residents and is economically viable. The Middlesex London Food Policy Council aims to be a forum for discussing local food issues, empowering citizens to be involved in food system decisions, foster coordination between sectors in the food system, create, evaluate, and influence policy and support programs and services that address local needs. More information can be found at: https://mlfpc.ca/about/mission/
- October 16th was World Food Day, a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initiative with 150 countries calling for collective action to find ways to feed a hungry planet: http://www.fao.org/world-food-day/home/en/.
- Private Member’s Bill 216, introduced on Oct 19 by The Honourable Daryl Kramp, (PC MPP for Hastings—Lennox and Addington) to require school boards to offer experiential food literacy education will equip Ontario students with essential life skills and the knowledge and confidence to grow, prepare and choose healthy food that will support positive health outcomes and help reduce health care costs.
- In 2019, The Food Policy for Canada was announced to address food insecurity, food system coordination, innovations in agriculture, and a School Food Program.
- Growing Chefs! Ontario has been providing food literacy programs for children, youth and families in London, Ontario and the surrounding area for over a decade and is announcing the development of a new food education programming facility; Growing Chefs! at The Grove.
- Western Fair Association, a not-for-profit agricultural society has worked collaboratively with Growing Chefs! Ontario for several years as a major sponsor and agri-food education partner and welcomes their new education facility to The Grove at Western Fair District.
- Growing Chefs! Ontario and the Middlesex London Food Policy Council recently collaborated to develop a strategy to expand food literacy education for children and families with a focus on equitable and sustainable food systems.