Our Kids Count Launch Thunder Bay Community Kitchen

Key changes handsTHUNDER BAY – The former RFDA building at 704 McKenzie Street has changed hands today. However the building will remain a site where families and food come together. In partnership with John Trevisanutto, Our Kids Count is launching the beginning of a community project that will establish a new kitchen for Thunder Bay.

The kitchen will be designed to help families prepare nutritious, affordable and healthy meals and will provide permanent, regular access, to a clean, secure, fully furnished kitchen facility, six days per week. Trained volunteer leaders will support participants in a friendly, ‘home-like’ facility with access to small appliances such as blenders, mixers, slow-cookers, and bread-machines.

“Food and cooking skills, nutrition and healthy eating form an important foundation for life. Many individuals may not have the facilities to cook, don’t get enough to eat, and often the food they do consume frequently has little nutritional value,” said Gladys Berringer, Executive Director of Our Kids Count. “Having opportunities to cook in a secure place will ensure that people that need it the most will be able to turn fresh ingredients into affordable and healthy meals.”

Children will also have a unique opportunity to learn basic cooking techniques through a peer program. High school students will be recruited to provide a positive role model to children wanting to learn how to make their own lunches or to prepare nutritious after-school snacks. This will be a ‘win-win’ situation for everyone involved as the role models will complete their required community hours and participants will gain valuable skills to help themselves and their families.

The kitchen will be officially named by the future participants and will be a multi-purpose space where people in the community can come together to share and learn valuable life skills and celebrate food,” states John Trevisanutto. “Food has the power to nourish us, the power to prevent disease, to bring families and communities together.”

Johnny De Bakker announced, “Every Christmas season, Thunder Bay wears its giant heart on its sleeve and gives generously to local charities.

A little less than two months ago, at the 8th annual Ischkinakker Shakker, nearly twenty-thousand dollers were raised for the Justice Ronald Lester Memorial Youth Foundation. Not to be outdone , across town, the 39th annual Stu Fest raised what has added to an estimated total of $300,000 over 39 years!

“Considering the fundraising feats we’ve both accomplished, I’m very proud to announce the upcoming 2011 Ischkinakker Shaker will be joining forces with Stu Fest for its last and final year,” continued De Bakker. “This year’s event will take place on December 23rd at a venue to be announced at a later date.

I’m also very happy to announce that Our Kids Count and the Thunder Bay Community Kitchen will be the primary recipient of the money we raise. This is a project we’ve got to know more about over the past few weeks. It’s a wonderful community initiative, and we’re very excited to be a part of the growth of this great up and coming organization”.

“We are very grateful for the sense of true community partnership that will make the opening of this kitchen possible,” states Ms. Berringer. “It is affirming that the community of Thunder Bay has come together to offer a helping hand for citizens that need support to access healthy food.”

Partners in this project include the three neighborhood elementary schools, St. Patrick’s High School, Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Lakehead Public Schools, Thunder Bay District Catholic School Board, Evergreen: A United Neighborhood, as well as numerous generous donors.

The grand opening of “A Kitchen for our Community” is slated for September 2011.