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Elementary school cooking program on the way

August 28, 2013 - 4:19 PM

In collaboration with the Okanagan Young Professionals (OYP) Collective and chefs from top restaurants in Kelowna, Growing Chefs! successfully piloted its Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program in two Kelowna elementary school classrooms. Now they are hoping to grow their program and need your help. All you have to do is dine at your favourite participating restaurant or visit a partner organization and they will donate $1 from select items to the program.

"Growing Chefs!  is more than teaching kids about urban agriculture. It's about inspiring our next generation where our food comes from. My own grade 3 teacher inspired me as a kid by growing and cooking bean sprouts. Being involved with Growing Chefs! is like coming full circle teaching our local children the same principles." – Rod Butters, Chef/Owner RauDZ Regional Table

In the Growing Chefs! program, professional chefs volunteer their time and visit the classroom every two weeks for a total of seven visits. On the volunteers’ first visit, they help the students plant fast-growing indoor windowsill gardens. They return every two weeks for 3.5 months to do lessons on plant growth, vegetable exploration, local and urban agriculture, sustainability and nutrition. At the end of the project, the students harvest their vegetables, and the volunteers teach them to prepare a delicious meal with what they have grown.  The Vancouver-based program has been running since 2005 and works with more than 100 volunteers in 34 different schools in the Lower Mainland, Comox Valley, and Kelowna.

“We are thrilled to expand the program to Kelowna,” says Helen Stortini, Executive Director of Growing Chefs! “It is such a great opportunity for us to grow and we are overjoyed with the enthusiasm and support from the Kelowna chef community and the Kelowna school administration.”

Chef Donnie Ungaro volunteered with the Growing Chefs! program in Vancouver in 2010. After moving back to the Okanagan Valley, Ungaro felt the program would be a great fit with the culinary community of Kelowna. Ungaro now works with the Okanagan Young Professionals (OYP) Collective, an initiative by the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission (COEDC) to keep and attract young professionals and families. “I had such a great experience with Growing Chefs! that I knew I had to bring it here. It’s such a great program for the Okanagan. Young families will love having it in their children’s schools” –Donnie Ungaro, Chef Culinary Ink, Head of Okanagan Young Professionals Collective

“Having the Growing Chefs! program in our school allows us to teach our students about the importance of agriculture, and how each one of them can contribute to being more healthy by growing some of their own food. As well, it is inspiring to see how many top caliber Chefs are willing to volunteer and 'give back' to their community. We are very fortunate to have this partnership at A.S. Matheson.” – Scott Sieben, Principal AS Matheson.

Drawing volunteers from Kelowna's finest restaurants such as RauDZ Regional Table, Waterfront Restaurant & Wine Bar, Grapevine Restaurant at Gray Monk Winery and Mission Tap House, the chefs are paired with primary classes to help students plant, grow, and learn to cook their own vegetables. The chef volunteers will be paired with two Grade 3 classes at A.S. Matheson Elementary.

So far a staggering list of restaurants are participating with more signing on every week. To date RauDZ, Waterfront Wines, Mission Tap House, the Train Station Pub, the Grapevine at Gray Monk, Culinary Ink, the Hotel Eldorado, Mission Hill, Summerhill Bistro, the Delta Grand, Infusions at Okanagan College, Okanagan Grocery and Knifewear for knife sharpening.

To learn more about the Growing Chefs! program in Kelowna or if your establishment would like to join the campaign, please get in touch with Donnie Ungaro.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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