Using Food to Educate, Engage and Empower Etobicoke Youth

RTW has been pleased to sponsor Montgomery's Inn Culinary Arts program for some time and it's always a pleasure to hear about how it is growing and changing. Lauren McCallum gave us an update on what's happening for 2018.
The Montgomery's Inn Culinary Arts Project (MICAP) began as the the Youth Food Program on Wednesdays to support the midweek Farmers' Market on the Inn's premises.  When Lauren noticed flagging attendance and asked "Why?", she soon learned the midweek timing intefered with homework, so the program was rescheduled for Fridays with flourishing attendance ever since.
MICAP draws its participants from 16 local high schools, with Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, Martin Grove Collegiate Institute, Richview Collegiate Institute and Lakeshore Collegiate Institute being most involved.  MICAP educates the kids about foods, nutrition, culinary arts and gardening while providing a safe, supervised environment in which to socialize.  Originally serving about 20 kids from 8 schools, the inclusion of 8 more schools has more than doubled the program's size.  Last year's participants collectively logged over 1,500 volunteer hours.
Activities have included cheese making and tasting with Chef Martin Raymond, making gooseberry jam from a heritage recipe with help from Culinary Historians of Canada, learning about bee cities and how native bee species effect native plants with the Toronto Regional Conservational Authority, and using food dyes to create custom aprons with the assistance of Arts Etobicoke.
In past years, the program has focussed on themes that looked at historic uses of food through heritage recipe collections.  This year's theme is Toronto Present: an exploration of the culinary traditions of several culturally different boroughs within Toronto.  The program begins on September 21st and runs for 12 weeks.  About 90% of students who participate re-enroll.  Past participants may continue to be involved in MICAP as youth mentors.  On Saturday, August 18th, the Gardiner Museum will have a Youth Appreciation Event for kids who have been involved with MICAP in the past.
Learn more about MICAP at MI's Facebook page and youtube channel.