Program connects kids to food industry

The Growing Chefs program based in Vancouver is helping students learn about the food cycle.

“Growing Chefs tries to get kids to think differently about food and want to transform the way they eat. We feel that too many kids don’t know where food comes from or how it’s grown and too many kids don’t have access to healthy, fresh food at home,” said Helen Stortini, executive director of Growing Chefs.

“We want to change that. We do that by giving kids hands-on experience with the entire food cycle from growing seeds all the way through growing plants, harvesting the plants and cooking with the vegetables that they have grown, through to eating them and composting.”

The core of the volunteer base comes from the chef and restaurant industry but there are volunteers from various aspects of the food industry.

“While chefs are the core of our volunteer base, any time a farmer or producer wants to participate, we really encourage them to do so,” she said.

The program was created by pastry chef Merri Schwartz in 2005.

Based in Vancouver, the program has been offered in several communities in the Lower Mainland as well as Victoria.

“I think it started initially in urban communities simply because there was a greater disconnect between an urban population and our food system,” said Stortini.

She believes part of what makes the program special is that it connects professionals with students.

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