Boxing Up the Basics: A program in Prince Edward Island to provide cooking skills for people with intellectual disabilities

CHARLOTOWN, PEI – The focus groups have been completed and Greg McKenna and colleagues are now ready to analyze and use the data.

McKenna is a research consultant at Holland College, and is part of a team working on using cooking to empower islanders with intellectual disabilities.

McKenna saw an interest and need for a culinary skills program when he was involved in a video cookbook project called Let’s Get Cooking.

“The idea was to help people improve their skills for independent living,” he said.

The cookbook was prepared in partnership with PEI Community Life and Tremploy, and McKenna is working with them once again to bring Boxing Up the Basics.

“We really wanted to expand the idea of ​​the video cookbook and there were two goals. One of them was to give people the basic skills they need to be able to make their own meal.

“The other part was the possibility of developing a social project … the idea is (to see) if we can add the idea of ​​meal kits, things like HelloFresh and those other well-known programs.”

“There is often nothing better than going to someone’s house or having a meal cooked for you. So I think being able to, not only create that independence for themselves, but that pride in being able to create and give to someone else is valuable.”

– Julie Smith

The project

Funded by NSERC (Canada’s National Scientific and Engineering Research Council), McKenna and the team work with Smartest Kitchen of Canada at Holland College to develop recipes that meet standards set by ACL customers.

The hope, McKenna said, is that another organization will help turn this into a socially oriented business aimed at empowering its employees, rather than making a profit.

“Organizations like Tremploy can include that in their recruitment training process and become a little bit — money maker might be the wrong word — but at least it will be some sort of break-even process where they can train people and they can hopefully pay for it.”


Good to know:

Tremploy:

• Tremploy, Inc. is a registered non-profit charitable community organization that provides vocational training and support services to adults with intellectual disabilities.

• The services aim to help each individual explore their full potential and enable them to contribute and participate in a meaningful way within the community.

• The Tremploy Program exists to deliver innovative, motivating, challenging programs that provide training opportunities to enhance the full development of capabilities and facilitate progress toward optimal performance for each client.

• Vocational training and support services are geared towards providing opportunities for community integration which include but are not limited to: gainful employment. further improving the quality of life; Increase skill development.


This input from people with autism and intellectual disabilities makes it client-centric, which is essential, McKenna said, noting some of the criteria they set.

“Things like ingredients must be readily available; they must be inexpensive…there are always many steps in recipes, but they must be relatively easy to prepare, unlike overly complex recipes; attractive on a large scale, such that we do not We can focus on the kinds of foods that are very spicy; the equipment you need should be something you find in every kitchen. All these kinds of things in order to make it as accessible as possible.”

Greg McKenna is a research advisor at Holland College and is part of the team that created Boxing Up the Basics. – Logan McClain

partners

There is also a social benefit that comes from learning to cook and sharing with others, said Julie Smith, executive director of the ACL.

“There is often nothing better than going to someone’s house or having a meal cooked for you. So I think being able to, not only create that independence for themselves, but that pride in being able to create and give to someone else is valuable.”

There is also a benefit for people facing higher grocery prices, Smith said.

“Being able to lower grocery bills by exposing individuals[to the costs of groceries]and giving them the opportunity to see the cost breakdown of some of their favorite recipes and their favorite foods, and being able to see the cost analysis of it, is really important, rather than eating more ready-to-eat foods that some people are getting. “.

Julie Smith is the Executive Director of PEI for Community Living.  - Contributed
Julie Smith is the Executive Director of PEI for Community Living. – Contributed

With all of this potential to benefit society, McKenna said, Boxing Up the Basics is a big deal.

“It’s again one of the best projects I’ll ever have the opportunity to work on, I think.”

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