Growing Chefs! Ontario

We live in a time when knowing where your food comes from, buying local food and eating fresh healthy food is more important than it has ever been. Growing Chefs! Ontario is a registered charity based in London, Ontario. They unite Chefs, growers, educators and community members in children's food education projects. They aim to change the way children, youth, families and the greater community learn about food. Their mission is to get kids excited about healthy, wholesome food. For over 11 years, Growing Chefs! Ontario has proven itself as the leading organization in Ontario in creating avenues for professional Chefs to get involved in our community and provide impactful hands-on cooking and food literacy programming for thousands of children, youth and families across London and surrounding areas, annually. By means of their programming, over 25,000 London and area children and youth have been given opportunities to explore healthy foods with their team. I teach at Knollwood Park Public School. It is a school full of wonderful students, many of whose life and food experiences are limited by family circumstances. Growing Chefs! provided them with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience how delicious “live food” is (as opposed to processed, packaged food) and how easy it is to prepare salads, salad dressings, stir-fries and sauces from scratch. They felt empowered as they prepared their own food and were delighted with the whole food experience using their 5 senses. After the initial visit, everyone from JK to grade 8 was asking when the Chefs were coming back for their second session! Our Autism Spectrum Disorder class especially loved it – their teacher shared how they raved about their lessons! Growing Chefs! teaches about the growing, preparation, consumption and enjoyment of food in a manner that impacts the way students view it, for the rest of their lives. I was also honoured to have Growing Chefs! come to another school at which I taught 4 years ago - C. C. Carruthers - and when I encounter my former students, they remember the Growing Chefs! visit as a highlight of their elementary school experience. A donation on behalf of the Lerners 90th Charitable Giveaway would go to support the School Food Education Project, which aims to get elementary school students excited about healthy food through grade-appropriate, interactive cooking and food literacy lessons with the Growing Chefs! Ontario team. The School Food Education Project is comprised of four separate programs to ensure that any interested school has the opportunity to participate regardless of financial, social or logistical barriers. Each year the project reaches over 6000 students across London and area. Lerners 90th funds would support food costs, equipment upkeep and project coordination. In my opinion as a teacher, even the Lerners name supports this request for funds for this excellent charity - our school learners deserve to know about "real food" to impact their life-long health. Growing Chefs! does that in a way that exceeds what classroom teachers can provide.

- Dianne

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