Barilla Canada is expanding on their long-standing partnership with Covenant House to provide an $18,000 cash and product donation to support at-risk youth during the pandemic.
With statistics showing that since COVID-19 began, 1 in 5 Canadian families have struggled to put nutritious food on the table, and with Covenant House seeing 300 youth a day and operating 24/7 to meet the demand, Barilla’s choice to provide fresh ingredients to Canada’s largest agency serving vulnerable youth was made easily.
“At Barilla, we believe in bringing the world high-quality food that is joyful, healthy and inspired by our Italian roots, which is why we are so excited to be expanding this partnership with Covenant House during Mediterranean Diet Month in May”, said Gino Rulli, Vice President and General Manager of Barilla Canada.
The Mediterranean Diet, celebrated every year in the month of May, is a way of eating that incorporates fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, like pasta. Following this diet can only go so far without access to these ingredients or the knowledge of how to cook them—an issue many at-risk youth have faced more frequently since the start of the pandemic.
To help address these inequalities, Covenant House hosts the Cooking For Life program—an interactive, hands-on training program that teaches the cooking skills needed to work hospitality and educate the young chefs on the principles of a healthy diet.
Danny Moon, Chef Instructor of Cooking For Life, has witnessed how the unfavourable circumstances of the last year have affected his students more than the normal struggles they face. Between increased isolation and mental health struggles, the Chef says turning to healthy eating and cooking becomes that much more important.
“It’s been a difficult year,” said Moon, “but we know that the simple act of cooking and eating a nourishing meal has so many emotional and health benefits.”
In addition to the fresh ingredient donation, Barilla Canada is also providing additional support in teaching the youth the advantages of a healthy diet by recording virtual cooking classes from chef partners and influencers throughout the month of May.
The videos will share principles of the Mediterranean Diet, food-styling tips and healthy and budget-friendly meal ideas. The goal of the virtual classes is to demonstrate that taking care of yourself by cooking a nutritious meal is a sign of love for oneself and can be for others, too.
“The Cooking For Life program goes beyond supporting youth with pre-kitchen employment training,” said Rulli. “It’s also the perfect opportunity to show them the joys that cooking can bring, whether it’s for themselves or someone they love.”
Though the chef partners and influencers are pre-recording the videos and will not be visiting the Covenant House kitchen in following the COVID-19 health guidelines, Moon says he is feeling extremely thankful for the support Barilla Canada has provided throughout this partnership to further help youth access healthy food and provide educational content on nutrition.
“Even though our Cooking For Life program may not be able to bring together our members in the same way it always does due to the pandemic, we are hopeful that the virtual cooking classes and meals served by Barilla will help us continue to bridge that gap and lay the foundation for creating healthy lifelong habits for youth in need.”
Click here to find out more information on the Barilla and Covenant House partnership.