It is a busy morning in the kitchen of the Stepping Forward program at the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre. Around the table sit staff from 8 different program areas within the organization. They have been gathering here on Friday mornings at the Community Tables training to talk about what it means to serve good food and to practice preparing it. This morning, the staff have been issued a cooking challenge: prepare a tasty meal or snack featuring a mystery item which is commonly provided by food banks or is inexpensive at the grocery store.
Around the room, there are a few worried faces as people are divided into their teams and assigned their mystery items. One team is assigned pasta, another has potatoes and the third must use canned beans. There is a lull for a moment and then the room bursts into action as the teams begin to get inspired and choose more items from the fridge and pantry to complete their meals. An hour later, the group sits down together to enjoy what they’ve prepared: a tuna pasta salad, black bean and corn salsa with cheese toast, and mix of roasted vegetables (potatoes, squash, and peppers). Most are shocked to see how appetizing the food looks and how good it all tastes. As they eat, the groups share how they made their dishes, what ingredients had to be changed to work with what they had, and what new things they tried.
Just down the road and under the main street overpass, another group has been meeting Wednesday mornings at the Turtle Island Neighborhood Centre to do the same training. This team of staff and volunteers from the Lord Selkirk Park Family Resource Centre regularly serve large community meals, as well as smaller snacks at their daily drop in and programming. Attending Community Tables has given them an opportunity to notice what they do well and where there is room for change to better serve their clients.
Samantha, the supervisor at the resource centre, shared,
“The ladies had a great time in this class, it truly has changed the way they shop, cook and are now more inclined to read labels. We have adapted some changes and our mindset when we are having a snack or a meal at our groups.”
Are you an organization that serves meals or snacks to your clients or is looking to start?
Who: Anyone involved in menu planning, food purchasing, food preparation or food service at your organization
When: The full curriculum can be delivered over five 3 hours sessions or 2 full days. Half day workshops on specific units are also available.
Where: Food Matters Manitoba can come to your space to deliver the training, or work with you to find a convenient space.
Contact Anna to see if Community Tables would be a fit for you and your team.
firstname.lastname@example.org or (204) 943- 0822 Ext. 108
Story By: Anna Levin, Program Coordinator, Food Matters Manitoba