Entrepreneur and Writer
Passion: Growing Chefs! Ontario
IN THE 1990s, I established a donor-directed endowment with London Community Foundation in memory of my grandmother. I learned about Growing Chefs! Ontario shortly after it became a registered charity, and I’ve been supporting it since 2016. The concept is simple: let’s teach kids how to make and enjoy really good food.
I heard [founder and executive director] Andrew Fleet speak in 2015, when Growing Chefs! was a Community IMPACT Award finalist at the Pillar Community Innovation Awards, and again when he was a 20 Under 40 recipient. Andrew is so passionate about the work he is doing. With the health issues we’re up against today, including obesity and diabetes, and with a lot of kids being picky eaters, it’s important to get them excited about healthy eating.
Everything is interactive—the kids learn to use age-appropriate tools in the kitchen, how to plate the food, how to serve each other and then they share a meal together. There is a learning garden with herbs and fruit trees at the King Street location, and Andrew also takes kids to the farmers’ market so they can see what the farmers have brought in.
It’s not just about the kids. I think it has huge potential to impact the whole family, to encourage all hands in the kitchen instead of relying on mom or dad to make the meal. When everyone is working together to create what they are going to eat, it also creates opportunities for conversation and community.
Growing Chefs! is built to eventually be self-sustaining, but in the interim it will continue to stay front and centre as a charity of choice, as long as it is needed.
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