Connecting families through food

October 30, 2020

By Sara Cameron, Senior Manager, Children and Family Programs

Apple crumble, red pepper soup, potato latkes – at the MOSAIC Teaching Kitchen, the meal possibilities are endless.

Focusing on ingredients that can be accessed at food banks in the Lower Mainland, Teaching Kitchen staff work with newcomer families each week to create nutritious, affordable, and easy to make meals and snacks.

An important aim of the program is to introduce newcomer families to Canadian recipes and other world cuisine, allowing participants to showcase dishes from their home countries and share recipes. As well, it gives newcomers a chance to learn how to prepare dishes with local food products that they may not be familiar with, such as cabbage.

With the challenges presented by COVID-19, the Teaching Kitchen team shifted to being virtual with sessions each Monday.

Our families tell me that the Teaching Kitchen helps them build long-lasting connections and friendships, giving them the opportunity to try out simple, affordable and healthy recipes that they prepare with their children.

What’s next on the menu? The coming weeks will see an abundance of onions, bell peppers, potatoes and apples – and no matter what, the food will be delicious.

Access to fresh, nutritious food a priority

It’s World Food Day, where we look to grow, nourish and sustain together. Helping put nutritious food on people’s table is an ongoing need, and we cannot do what we do without the support of others. With the additional financial challenges that many experienced with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Children and Families (C&F) team at MOSAIC knew that newcomer families could be among the hardest hit.

Fortunately, organizations including United Way, the Breakfast Club of Canada, and Good Food Access Funding stepped forward as valued partners, allowing C&F staff to ensure additional support was in place to address food insecurity amongst clients.

Here are some highlights:

  • United Way generously provided a $20,000 grant to enable the C&F program to assist families and youth who are experiencing food insecurity. C&F staff provided support through gift cards to local grocery stores, food hampers and freshly cooked items by Fawzia, the chef at the Family Centre. This funding will be added support to the Food Hamper Program that is run by the Family Centre, also funded by United Way.
  • Community Food Centres Canada donated $10,000 through the Good Food Access Fund in order to allow families to purchase basic essential items. So far, C&F staff have been able to support 62 families with $100 provided per family toward their grocery bill. Staff also put together food hampers and made homemade infant food to distribute to refugee families.
  • The Breakfast Club of Canada provided a $1,200 grant, which was used to provide much needed food items and gift cards to MOSAIC families dealing with food insecurity concerns.

In addition to the support provided by partner organizations during the pandemic, ongoing programs continue to help provide access to healthy, nutritious food for newcomer families.

MOSAIC is now in its sixth year of participating in the Farmers Market Coupon Program, which provides 16-weeks’ worth of coupons for families in need to shop at their local farmers’ markets. So far, the program has enabled 46 families to shop for fresh, healthy produce at their local farmers market, and MOSAIC staff have organized ‘Market Days’ where families can pick up their coupons and shop.

The program has been an important way for families to access healthy food, with one client commenting, “This program is very supportive and has helped us to make better food choices for my baby and family. MOSAIC staff are very thoughtful and wonderful.”