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Meet Ally, a student studying Food, Health and Nutrition, and a passionate EcoCooks volunteer.

Why did you want to be a part of the EcoCooks Club team? What do you think the best part about it is? I loved the idea of connecting the topics of nutrition, climate change, and the environment! For me, this project was a dream come true as I had the opportunity to work with passionate, kind, and knowledgeable people who really want to make a difference. When you are trying to eat your best, cooking and eating can feel complicated and confusing. This is especially true when it comes to trying to eat a balanced diet because of all the contradicting information you can find. Due to myself getting caught in all this confusion, I wondered how kids would be able to navigate all the different information that is out there. I wanted to make it one of my personal goals to help in some way to give kids the tools that they need to be able to make well-informed decisions when it comes to their food, to help simplify and make eating more attainable in creating a balanced meal and to try and minimize and answer some of those contradictions that we face from diet culture, media and other sources. While helping develop the curriculum and seeing it all come together, I truly feel this is a great program that connects and builds on the knowledge that many kids have learned in school or other programs and they can learn it in a fun and engaging way. Watching the kids build on their knowledge throughout the 8 weeks was so exciting as I could see them begin to think critically about their choices regarding the environment and their food and how they relate to one another. Additionally, I loved getting to know the kids over the length of the program and watching their enthusiasm for cooking, trying new recipes and new ideas develop. Did anything about the program surprise you?

Throughout the program, I was continuously surprised by how much the kids already knew regarding water usage and climate change. I loved seeing how the kids interacted, how they were able to think critically about these topics and make connections that they hadn’t before (like how much water is needed for crops or different ways to make certain foods). The EcoCooks became curious about different or alternative foods and curious about how those foods affect the planet. What are your favourite EcoCooks Club memories? One of my favourite parts of the EcoCooks Program was in week 5 when we took the kids to Helen’s Acre Farm to volunteer with the Okanagan Fruit Tree Project. The kids learned how to plant beans and were given some foundational skills in gardening. Afterwards, we had a BBQ and discussed what we had learned that day. The kids had a good experience, and by this time in the program, the kids had gotten to know each other and made the BBQ that much more fun! Another favourite memory was teaching one participant how to make a sour cream alternative from sunflower seeds and seeing her reaction to how it tasted. She was fascinated that she could make something she normally buys from scratch so easily! I am forever grateful for being a part of the EcoCook Club’s Team as I made amazing friends, and I learned so much myself. We were lucky enough to work with the amazing members of our Advisory Board, and of course, meet the other dedicated EcoCooks Club Team members!

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