Three years ago, the Community Lunch Box Program added a cooking area for the students at Hilltop Storefront School. It created opportunities for students in Grades 10 through 12 to earn school credits, learn transferable life skills including baking and cooking, as well as build positive relationships amongst students and teachers.
Grade 12 Storefront student Tristan Keshane said “I’ve learned to add spices to the meals I cook, make things taste better. It makes me come back and I get to learn.”
“We have foods’ class every Tuesday. The students provide us with a recipe they want to cook in advance and then we get the ingredients they need to cook. They make enough to be able to feed the class,” Hilltop outreach co-ordinator, Sarah Van De Kerckhove stated. She added that “Prior to us having the stove and cooking area when we had our Christmas luncheon, Thanksgiving luncheon, the teachers always prepped everything at home the night before and brought it in the next day to serve it. Now, we carve the turkey and prepare everything else in-house, at storefront. The students help peeling vegetables. It makes it a lot easier and the students learn how to cook using the same process. It breaks up the monotony of the school day and makes it a fun place to learn. They like the good things.”
Kieran Matthews, a grade 12 student from Storefront, says baked chicken alfredo is his favourite meal prepared at the school.
Tammy Johnson, Hilltop Outreach receptionist, says “Trish Gilmore from Community Lunch Box provides Storefront with bagels, doughnuts, and bread to make the students’ lunches. Many students are on a limited budget and live on their own. Students also have access to the various food items to take home.”
Tammy further added that Trish does weekly cooking supply shopping for Storefront as well.
Tammy believes that The Community Lunch Box Program gives teachers the opportunity to build positive connections within the community and with their students.
“Let’s face it," she said, “some students come through the front door and they haven’t had anything to eat. Having this cooking area allows students to learn better on a full stomach.”