(Courtesy Frankie Massicotte)
What’s for Lunch, a community cooking show that promotes healthy eating and family bonding, was the winner of the innovation award at this year’s Order of Dietitians and Nutritionists of Quebec award gala.
Co-hosts Chantal Haddad, a community dietitian and nutritionist at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre (KMHC), and Frankie Massicotte, a parenting support worker at Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS), said that they are proud that the program has received this kind of recognition.
“That was pretty cool. It was fun,” said Haddad. “We have been having a lot of fun with this program, but we have also put a lot of work into it. And so, it is nice to be acknowledged at this time.”
“It’s nice for us, but it is also nice for the community because it is something positive. It has been a tough year for everyone in their own way.”
The innovation award was added this year to highlight individuals who created different programs and initiatives and were able to adapt them to the circumstances of the pandemic.
Haddad said that it was her colleagues at KMHC who encouraged them to apply for the award. They submitted an application that included a summary of the project, a promotional poster, a photo montage of participants preparing the food and a sample video.
“We let people know at KMHC, KSCS and the community that they could go on the site and vote for the What’s for Lunch program, and we ended up winning,” said the dietitian.
“Before COVID, Chantal would come into the Family and Wellness Center at KSCS and would offer healthy cooking sessions to families,” said Massicotte.
“Often, it was moms that would come to the centre with their children. She would supply the ingredients for them, and they would cook all together collaboratively and then we would all sit down and eat the lunch that was prepared.”
But of course, after COVID-19, the women had to come up with another way of promoting healthy eating habits for the community.
“I reached out to Chantal about snack ideas that parents could prepare with their kids. That was the start, but at that point, we weren’t offering free ingredients. It was to show them how to make this using Facebook Live,” she said.
Part of the appeal of the program is that participants receive ingredient kits so that they can follow the exact recipes as shown on the program.
“In September 2020, we decided to continue this as an avenue to promote healthy eating and lifestyles. That is when we came up with the What’s for Lunch program,” said Massicotte.
That is also when they started supplying the ingredient kits.
“I think that is what makes this a little different from many other cooking demonstrations that you find online,” said Haddad.
“Because it is really for the community, and most of the time, we know the participants, so there is a connection there. They know us, so it makes it special in that way.”
In order to receive the kits, participants need to register for the program. However, places are limited, and currently, there are no plans to expand it.
Haddad explained that it was important for them to have kids in the kitchen and be involved with food because of the benefits that families get from cooking together and eating together.
“There is a lot of learning that goes on, a lot of bonding that goes on. There is an open-mindedness towards food and different types of nutritious ingredients, and those are the kind of things that are built when the kids are young,” said Haddad.
Massicotte said that What’s for Lunch would not have been possible without the support of her supervisor at KSCS, Noreen Montour and Haddad’s supervisor at KMHC, Dawn Montour.
“Kanahne Rice was working for KSCS, and she was very involved. She was filming us, and she would include some of the Kanien’kéha words.
“A translation booklet was made by Marie David, who works in communications at KSCS, using some of the words that Kanahne shared. Alana Atwin later jumped in and took over the filming,” said Massicotte.
The show is recorded on Wednesday morning, and it is then uploaded to the KSCS Facebook page so that people can prepare the food at their convenience and include the whole family.