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By: Tanya Granger EcoCooks Club was thrilled to partner with KCR Community Resources’ Immigrant Services team to offer a special summer session for newcomer youth in Kelowna. As an immigrant to Canada myself, it was a privilege to partake in the program, and to witness the joy of the youth building connections in the community, learning new life skills and being empowered to make planet-positive choices.

We began by exploring the health of our planet and it was so refreshing to hear the youth’s thoughts. Many had a lot of awareness about climate change and the negative effects that they have seen it have around the globe. They were eager to know more about why climate change was happening and how they could be part of the solution. As the youth participants calculated different food emissions for a fun pictionary activity, they were surprised to discover that beef burgers have a much higher carbon footprint than plant-based burgers. “That’s actually a lot, the beef emissions!” exclaimed Daniel, one of the youth participants. His sister, Catherine, noted that it was because “the cows have more gas.”

Everyone had an especially fun time learning new kitchen skills, like safely and efficiently chopping vegetables and herbs, and mashing chickpeas. The youth all practiced these skills by making their own low carbon footprint meal, a delicious planet-positive chickpea “toona” salad sandwich. No actual tuna in there, instead a super secret substitute ingredient…seaweed, which was a huge hit all round! After making the recipe, Sudanese youth participant, Mokte, shared his thoughts between bites, “I like this, it’s so yummy. I will make this for my family!” His buddy, Roland, was equally impressed and said, “I’m going to make this chickpea sandwich for my sister.” In fact, 10/10 youth participants shared that they would make this recipe at home.

Matthew, KCR intern, who is currently training to be a counselor and assisted during the program shared that “The learning part was on point, an awesome program!” As for the recipe “I really like the chickpeas mixed in a salad like this, I would have this for lunch.” There was zero wastage during the program as the youth learnt tips on how to avoid food wastage, not to mention most went back for seconds too! KCR staff member, Kiana, who works in Immigrant Services as a Youth Settlement Activity Worker had high praises for EcoCooks Club “I love the program.” She also got to experience the delight not only from the youth creating and eating their nutritious meal, but from their families being included too. “The parents were shocked and happy that the kids brought them food too. Especially as the program was free.”

Ukrainian youth participant, Alvina, shared with her friends and I enthusiastically “I want to grow our own vegetables from home now.” What a powerful impact we can have when we empower young minds to make positive food choices for the planet and themselves! EcoCooks Club looks forward to continuing our friendship with KCR and seeing many more youth in our programs in the near future.

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