"We call that Cooking with Koko and Auntie." 

That's Employment and Training Consultant Jeanna Emms about a program taking place at the Portage Friendship Centre's Eagles Fire for youth. 

"The youth are an entirely different breed and we really enjoy some of the things that they organized. Krystal Bernard is heavily involved with the event, as well," says Emms. "Krystal and I were talking about it. I Iove to cook and I love to eat. However, when I was a young Jeanna, I aged out of care and I had no skills in anything other than what I had been able to grasp from here and there. One of those things that I struggled with was eating properly, cooking nutritiously, and living on a budget."

She explains that she wanted to find something they could organize with the community's youth to help them sidestep some of those same barriers. Emms adds they also wanted the youth to take these skills and share them with others.

"When we do a program, we shop for all the supplies," continues Emms. "Krystal and I decide on a recipe that's nutritious, cost-effective, and relatively doesn't take too much time to do. We'll go out and do all the grocery shopping. We'll buy however many kits we need for the individual students. We usually try and keep that between eight and ten. Then we make kits for them. We keep one kit that we all work on at Eagles Fire together. So we'll go over, you know, safe food-handling practices, the nutrition of something, and how it's cooked one way versus another way."

Emms notes they share some skills, as well, that will help the youth be a little safer and more knowledgeable in the kitchen. She adds they all work on the recipe, learn the method, and talk about what they could do differently at home.

"And then they each take one of those kits home and they prepare that same meal that we worked on together for their family," says Emms. "In this day and age, with the cost of groceries and the economy, if we can take the pressure off of a family by just providing those groceries for one night, then that's something that we're happy to do." 

Health Coordinator Krystal Bernard very much enjoys this event and says the youth are really fun to work with, and to be able to show them something that they can take home and share with their families, is great.

"Knowing that they have some skills, once they move on from their parents' care or the guardians' care, it's just something I enjoy doing with the youth."