The Greater Blackville Resource Centre recently hosted the first community food mentors program, which was supported by the Community Inclusion Network. The program lasted five weeks. Twelve participants were involved in the program and attended one session per week in a shared learning environment. They learned from both the various instructors and each other.
“When we first heard about the community food mentors course we immediately knew it was something we wanted to help bring to our community,” said Stacy Underhill, secretary and treasurer of the Greater Blackville Resource Centre and coordinator of the food mentors program, in a news release. The course used hands-on presentations and guest speakers to help participants learn basic cooking skills, safe food handling, healthy eating, how to properly read food labels, how to eat well on a budget, community food actions, how to feed children, vegetarian eating, gardening tips and local sources of food. Each of the participants received their food safety certification.
“It made so much sense for the Northumberland Community Inclusion Network to work on this project with the Greater Blackville Resource Centre since it complements both organizations’ visions of a community that uses people’s energy and abilities to increase access to good, healthy and affordable food,” said Rébeka Frazer-Chiasson, coordinator for the community inclusion network, Region 7. In today’s society consumers are faced with many issues involving food and food security, which continues to become complex. There are many food choices, conflicting information about health and diet, limited meal preparation time and the ever constant questions about how and where food is grown. On top of that, some people have additional challenges, such as low income, limited transportation, limited kitchen facilities or limited preparation skills and knowledge about food. Certified community food mentors share their skills in food and nutrition within their community. Subsequently, the goal of the program is to use a shared learning experience to develop food mentors in New Brunswick communities in order to increase knowledge of information on food skills, healthy eating practices and local food sourcing.
A few of the graduates from the program would like to start a community garden and are looking for residents in the Blackville area who may be interested. People would share a plot of land, tools and the workload to care for the garden. The harvest would then be shared between participants to do with what they choose. The size of the garden would depend on interest. For members of the community who don’t have the tools or space available and would like their own garden plot, there will be an opportunity to rent one. There would be a fee of about $10 to $20. Anyone interested in joining the planning committee, renting a garden plot, starting a community garden, or wanting to learn more, contact Ken MacIntosh at email@example.com or 506-843-7872. For more information about the program, visit their website, bfoodsecurity.ca/community-food-mentor-program.