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Grant boosts Courtenay school’s healthy feeding program

Courtenay Elementary Community School is getting a user-friendly kitchen.

The new addition is thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Comox Valley Community Foundation and the Rotary Club of Courtenay Foundation Fund.

The school was one of many recipients of the 2020 Community Enrichment and Professional Development grant for its work in supporting children and youth. 

On top of the kitchen, the funding will also go towards helping to enhance the current feeding program offered to students, particularly the most vulnerable children.

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Right now, the kitchen area currently serves as a multipurpose room used by many community groups.

The space is used for the school’s morning breakfast program, that serves a minimum of 10 students, and often upwards around 20 kids on any given day. 

At lunch time, the room is busy again with staff and the Parents Advisory Council (PAC) prepping a healthy meal for many students in need.

“There is a real bee-hive of activity,” said CECSS executive director, Shawn Thir. 

“The problem is there is not enough prep space to feed kids. And because the space is getting more and more use, the room needs to be reconfigured and equipped with a better dishwasher.”

The project will begin with the installment of a commercial grade dishwasher. The next phase will entail the installment of a new sink and mobile kitchen carts to provide appropriate space for food preparation.

CECSS also envisions that a mobile kitchen island configuration may open up the opportunity for introducing simple cooking classes.

“Multiple kitchen carts with stainless steel tops and storage underneath with large mirrors overhead is ideal so that teachers can have cooking classes and students can see what’s actually going on over the table,” Thir said.

“Courtenay Elementary already offers nutritious breakfast and lunch to many students each day. With these new facilities we’re hoping to expand both our food and community programs,” added school principal, Catherine Mason. “Our teachers are thrilled to be able to provide more inclusive nutrition education with some ‘hands on’ lessons.”

One of the many events CECSS has used the space for in recent months is for its popular Cook, Eat and Learn workshops presented by Tina Willard-Stepan, an environmental educator with the Comox Strathcona Waste Management. 

Her presentations are focused around teaching sustainable practice and waste reduction when preparing healthy, unpackaged snacks and lunches.

The workshop will be offered again on Feb. 4.

To learn more about Courtenay Elementary Community School Society, click here.

To see a video on the Cook, Eat and learn Waste-Free lunches presentation, click here.

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