By Shannon Tucker and Anita Jean
Food literacy is a relatively new concept and it is described as the skills and experience to prepare nutritious food. Literacy is described as the ability to read and write. At NorWest, we first came across this concept as part of an Ontario"wide research project on food skills behaviour done by Public Health Ontario as part of the Locally"Driven Collaborative Project.
There are five levels of food literacy
- Very basic skills such as re"heating prepared foods.
- Adding water to prepare food.
- Using a mix from a box and adding other ingredients.
- Preparing basic foods without a recipe.
- Making meals from scratch and using a recipe.
The NorWest Community Health Centres offers several programs where children and adults can develop their food literacy. Depending on the program, participants will learn about nutrition, food safety, food storage, reading and understanding food labels. The programs feature age appropriate recipes and information.
Cooking with Diabetes
Enjoying food can be a challenging task when Diabetes plays a part in our lives. In the 5"week Cooking with Diabetes program key food topics relevant for individuals living with diabetes are covered, such as reading labels, portion size, cravings, carbohydrate counting. Other related diabetes management topics such as exercise and managing your sick day are also featured.
One topic is featured weekly, followed by a cooking demonstration related to the topic. An example would be portion sizes using spaghetti. This creates an opportunity to introduce a healthier alternative, such as spiraled zucchini instead of noodles, and using ground chicken instead of ground beef. This way, someone living with diabetes can still have their garlic toast as the carbohydrate, and then fill up on vegetables. At the end of every session participants are given a task to work on for the week, such as using the plate portion sizes every evening for supper.
Food literacy programs for children are a wonderful way to develop a multitude of skills, such as mathematics via the use of measures and quantities when following recipes.
Programs are offered this summer in both Longlac and Thunder Bay.
Kids Food Fun Program
For more than 10 years children have been participating in the Kids Food Fun program. The aim of the program is to teach healthy lifestyle choices while having fun.
- Ages 6 to 8: will learn how to prepare healthy snacks in an afternoon program from 1 to 3 pm. The first program will run July 15 to 17, and the second program will run August 12 to 14.
- Ages 9 to 12: will prepare healthy lunches in a mid"day program running from 11 am until 2pm. The first group will run July 22 to 24 and the second program will run August 19 to 21. This program includes games featuring physical activity and the Hug a Tree program on how to stay safe in the woods.
Thunder Bay's Kidz in the Kitchen
Kidz in the Kitchen is a program for children ages 8 to 12. Two sessions running from 10 am until noon will be offered: Session One, July 21 to 23 and Session 2, August 18 to 20th. This program features food safety, basic cooking skills, the use of recipes, and combining food from the four food groups to create a meal.
To register for the summer children's programs, call us at (807) 622.8235 in Thunder Bay or (807) 876.2271 in Longlac.
Shannon Tucker is the Community Nutrition Worker in Longlac. Anita Jean is the Manager, Health and Social Programs.
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