Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and gratitude, and one local non-profit society, Chefs in the Classroom, is feeling particularly thankful after sustained and generous community support has seen it grow year over year.
Launched in 2016 by the Okanagan Chiefs Association, Chefs in the Classroom is an Okanagan inspired, hands-on curriculum with links to our Aboriginal community and practices, that teaches school children in the community how to grow, cook and eat local foods.
The curriculum is made up of six 90-minute lessons geared to children at grade three level. In the spring, Okanagan chefs visit a range of classrooms in Kelowna, West Kelowna, Summerland and Naramata to educate kids about the importance of food.
The program regularly receives rave reviews. One grade three student even remarked that the program had been “life-changing” with the highlight of the six-lesson course being a field trip to a working farm with lunch hosted by the chefs and volunteer teams.
Debbie MacMillan, Chair of the Chefs in the Classroom initiative, is delighted with how the program has grown and wants to thank those who have helped make it happen.
“Chefs in the Classroom is entirely volunteer-run and sponsor funded and that is something that we are tremendously proud of,” said MacMillan.
“We’re so very grateful to the community of wonderful individuals and organizations who have helped our program grow each and every year, helping to grow our future food champions in the process. We really could not do this without them. There is a tremendous demand for our program. We hope to grow again in 2020 because we know there is so much value in this program, but it is really dependant on the resources and funding available.”
From chefs, cooks, farmers, gardeners, nutritionists and educators, the entire Chefs in the Classroom team is made up of volunteers. The organization is supported by a diverse group of organizations, including Mission Family Estate Winery, Kiwanis Club of Kelowna – Summit and many others.
MacMillan is keen to stress that the community support for Chefs in the Classroom is key to what makes it successful.
“The community support that we receive, whether it is from parents, volunteers or sponsors, is so essential to the success of Chefs in the classroom. I want to thank everyone who has supported us in these past four years, we’re so excited for year five.”
As attention turns to 2020, volunteers are needed for the program’s launch in the spring. The commitment from volunteers is six Monday mornings for roughly two to three hours. Those interested in learning more about volunteering can visit the Chefs in the Classroom website.