Guest blog by WoodGreen volunteer Bella Melardi
Who doesn’t love food? It’s one thing everyone can appreciate no matter who you are. And WoodGreen’s Cooking 101 program gave youth the chance to indulge in tasty treats earlier this year. The program, offered to newcomer youth ages 16-21, started on June 23 and ended on July 8.
LEARNING THE BASICS OF COOKING
To kick off the program, participants attended an orientation session. Then, they learned about kitchen safety, how to make vegetable stock, how to make a grocery list, and about pantry basics. We each got a grocery gift card to purchase ingredients, and we worked with a counsellor who taught us how to shop for groceries within a budget.
After this was the next step: starting to cook! In one session, the participants created a one-pot pasta or a seasonal sheet-pan dinner. The following week, they whipped up an apple crisp pie. And the week after that, they had a pizza party, where they made and ate their own delicious pizza. During that session, they also had a writing exercise where they named specific foods that evoked a fond memory. Then they described that memory in detail.
For the final session, the participants had a workshop on creating resumes and how to search for jobs.
PARTICIPANTS LEARNED VALUABLE LIFE SKILLS
One big takeaway for the program participants was that they learned a valuable life skill that they can continue to use for years to come. They also learned that cooking is enjoyable. Even more, they now know that they can cook their favourite foods and have delicious meals. We also got volunteer hours for taking part.
Here’s what some of them had to say about their experience:
“My experience was great. My favourite part was cooking with Shauna. I am more likely to cook because I don’t have to bother others to make my food. I can make my own and live by myself.”
“My experience was pretty great. My fav thing was that I was able to learn and cook my fav food. After this program, I’m more likely to cook because I would be eating food that is made by me.”
In conclusion, the Cooking 101 program was a huge success. The youth were very engaged throughout each session, despite the program running virtually. Overall the participants had a blast, met new people, and learned a very important life skill.
WoodGreen offers a variety of programs for youth. To learn more about our youth programs, click here.