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Happy Food Day Canada!

Food Day Canada is “…a chance for all Canadians to join hands in one massive celebration in praise of our farmers and fishers, our chefs, and researchers and, above all, our home cooks.”

It all began in 2003, as the World’s Longest Barbecue, by Anita Stewart, her family, and supporters. The barbecue was conceived to support the agriculture industry, and Canadians from as far away as Japan and Australia participated.


Food Day Canada is a good time to pause and appreciate the process and people involved to take food from source to serving. It’s also a good time to raise awareness that there are some challenges:

Although these rising costs affect us all, they are especially detrimental to those who are at risk of becoming, or who are, homeless. A study conducted on Toronto’s homeless youth population found that youth facing homelessness were nutritionally vulnerable.

The rising costs of food makes it even harder for vulnerable youth to attain foods that support their nutritional needs. Many youth show up to Covenant House malnourished. Being nutritionally vulnerable has significant ramifications including: poor health, which is a barrier to obtaining and maintaining employment; possible impairment of cognitive and physiological functions; increase risk of infections; and exacerbating depression and substance abuse.

CHV’s costs to care for vulnerable youth have been rising with inflation, and our weekly food costs have increased by 17% over the same period last year with no signs of dropping. In order to continue to provide meals, life skills programs, and holistic support for youth, we rely on community support.

Overcoming Challenges

While preparing a meal, have you ever paused and thought, “How did I learn how to do this?” Chances are that part of your youth was spent hanging around a kitchen where an adult, or adults, were preparing a meal. Perhaps you even assisted in the meal prep.

For most of us, meal planning and preparation doesn’t require a lot of extra thought. However, for youth who did not have that influential adult in their lives, preparing a nutritional meal can feel very daunting.

While at CHV, youth learn life skills like budgeting, meal planning, and cooking. Budgeting is important so that you know how much you have to spend on groceries. Meal planning incorporates budgeting and the knowledge of how to cook, so that you can shop for the most nutritious foods that you can get, given your budget. Food is not only a building block of life, it’s often used as the focus for social and cultural gatherings. Learning how to prepare meals is a vital component to independent living.

Earlier this year, thanks to La Tablée des Chefs, youth at CHV participated in the like Cook Up Your Future program. During this five-week program, youth learned essential skills like proper knife skills, kitchen safety, food preparation safety, baking and cooking. Each week youth participated in a two-hour lesson that began with a demonstration. During these sessions, youth were supported by our own in-house chef and life skills coordinators, as they prepared the recipe of the week. The youth made a wide array of dishes ranging from homemade pizza to apple crumble. Our youth left each session with new skills, a full belly and leftovers for the next week. This program will continue throughout the year, with sessions running again in the summer, fall and winter.

While youth are working towards independence, they are supported by staff who care about their health and well-being. In 2022, the kitchen at CHV lovingly prepared over 96,000 meals!

In celebration of Food Day Canada, we’d like you to meet Mirabel, Assistant Manager of Food Services, here at CHV:

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Mirabel, Assistant Manager of Food Services