Published August 25, 2016 08:00
Nourishment is more than just healthy food. Nourishment is having people who look out for you, having the skills to be active in society, and having the confidence to live independently. Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs seeks to nourish youth in need so that they can grow into strong, successful adults. For teenagers in need, the Penticton Youth Community Kitchen lends stability to tight budgets.
Youth agreements help young people afford to live, but they do not always account for the rising cost of healthy living. Teens on such agreements find they have little money left over after paying rent. Eating healthy foods and staying active are important to these young people, but fruits, vegetables, and lean meats are often over-budget.
Enter the Penticton Youth Community Kitchen. For young people living by themselves, the program provides a bit of extra spending money so these youth can have healthy meals in between Youth Agreement cheques. Teens spend this money on extra groceries during trips with a youth support worker. The trips are a part of the Youth Support offered by the Integrated Family Development Program, a joint initiative of the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs and Penticton & District Community Resources Society. Youth living independently or on agreements are referred to the program by the Ministry of Children and Family Development.
Having extra spending money not only helps our young people to eat healthy, but it gives them the ability to be a little more creative with their meals. “My last grocery shop, I bought ingredients to make Indian tacos,” said one teen. With room for experimentation, cooking becomes a fun activity rather than a chore.
The extra support has given one of our youth a hand up during her senior year of high school. She is still taking trips with a support worker during the transition from graduation to the work force. Another recipient is at risk for high blood pressure. Rather than “throwing a frozen pizza in the oven,” she can cook a large, healthy meal that leaves plenty of food left over for another day.
A little generosity can have a major impact. For teens in the program, the small amount of extra spending money they receive helps sustain their healthy lifestyles. “Going shopping lets me make another meal that I otherwise couldn’t, as I wouldn’t have the money to do so.”