Vernon students “Cook it, Try it, Like it”

Facilitator Dawn Guenette teaches the class about oats during their cooking session Tuesday, Feb. 27. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Grade 4/5 Hillview Elementary School students take part in Food Action’s Cook it, Try it, Like it Program. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Shaymus Waterstreet and Jackson Seminutin participate in Cook it, try it, like it program winter 2019. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Mina Nadeau and Turner Hayward Cook join in. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
.Ciara Costigan and Colton Sitter make yogurt parfaits. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Emma Ward cooks it, tries it, likes it. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Spencer Catlin cuts fruit for his parfait. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Mina Nadeau partakes in the cooking Tuesday. (Brieanna Charlebois - Morning Star)
Before cooking, nursing students Sydney Fines, Lindsay Usher and Megan Edwards taught a lesson about healthy eating. (Brieanna Charlebois- Morning Star)

The Food Action Society of the North Okanagan Action is running their Cook it, Try it, Like it Program with Shawn Yargeau’s Grade 4/5 class at Hillview Elementary School this winter.

The program, which runs until the end of March, encourages kids to prepare food and try healthy ingredients.

Nursing students volunteer their time to help present lesson plans on health topics, then work with the class to make nutritional recipes.

Related: Healthy eating a priority in schools

Related: Food bank calls for healthy donations this holiday season

“It’s a great program,” said Samara Sonmor, executive director and program manager of Food Action Society.

“The students love it and we’ve set up this collaboration with School District 22 and UCBO nursing students, so it’s actually pretty good.”

But, this isn’t the first time the program has run. It was initially created by Interior Health to get kids to try new foods with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables as much as possible.

Sonmor said the Food Action Society hosted two similar series last fall.

“We’re running it in a school setting with between 20 and 25 students and we needed some help so the UBCO nursing students are volunteering their time once a week to come in and present a health-oriented lesson plan,” Sonmor said.

“Basically that’s a brief 20-minute lesson on topics like hand washing or the Canada food guide. This way the nursing students become more comfortable working with this age group, provide some health information and then they assist our coordinator with working with the groups to make a recipe.”

Christine Balfour, nursing teacher at UBCO, said that the partnership between School District 22, Health Promoting Schools, Food Action Society and UBC Okanagan School of Nursing, provides nursing students with practice educating, reduces the cost of the program and involves a variety of community members in a positive health promotion project.

She also noted that while the initiative was initially run as an after-school program, she thinks holding sessions during school hours works best.

“It’s a program that can work really well as an after-school program, but it needs a lot of volunteers and sometimes when you run programs after school hours, it places barriers for students to attend. So, by doing it in the classroom with nursing students as volunteers and giving them an opportunity to teach as well, removes that barrier so all of the children can partake and opens it up,” Balfour said.

This week the UBCO nursing students—Lindsay Usher, Megan Edwards and Sydney Fines—taught the class about sugar, before handing them over to facilitator Dawn Guenette, who showed the students how to make yogurt parfaits.

Guenette, who has volunteered for many years trying to improve the healthy eating habits of young people, is paid for her services from funding coming jointly from Food Action Society and Health Promoting Schools.

Shawn Yargeau said her class is loving the program — so much that she said she has already requested to host the program for her class next year.

“It’s the first time I’ve done it and its been an amazing program for myself, my students and the nurses as well,” Yargeau said.

“It’s given us an opportunity to cover the curriculum, get some community involvement with the university and Interior Health and the schools and just getting the kids to try some neat things — things that they maybe haven’t tried before.”

The series concludes with a trip to the grocery store where students will learn how to choose healthy foods.

Yargeau noted each student will also receive a booklet at the end of the course that includes the set of healthy recipes they made in class.

Related: New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Related: Cheesed off: Federal Food Guide makeover worries Canadian farmers

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