Good to Go Grads Youth Project A Success

BPDS students Gracey Williamson (left) and Bryaire Forbes (right) prepare food in their Food and Nutrition class.
Submitted by Ayla Lyons and Rachel McLay

This past January, an opportunity arose for youth between 15 and 29 years to apply for a grant from Ledge Leadership and the Grey Bruce Youth Engagement Network to design a project to improve well-being in your local community in collaboration with a community organization. 

Ayla Lyons, a university student at Western University, was interested in volunteering at The Meeting Place Tobermory (TMP) for hours towards a MSc program, and Rachel McLay, a university student at Nipissing University, was interested in completing a community placement with TMP for hours towards her BEd. Grace Wheeler, a Gr.10 high school student at Bruce Peninsula District School (BPDS), was also wanting to volunteer with TMP for her hours. 

With help from TMP (Karla Trudgen) as our host agency and community partners, BPDS (Food and Nutrition course instructor, Michelle Minke) and the Good to Go meal program (Michelle Watson), Ayla, Rachel and Grace received a $1,700.00 grant for a 5-week foods project designed to help local youth 15 to 18 years old living on the Northern Bruce Peninsula. The aim of the project was to improve youth’s comfort and confidence in making healthy recipes on their own in preparation for post-secondary.

Between February and April, the G2G Grad project provided educational and practical resources to 22 students in the Food and Nutrition class at BPDS. For each week, students were given a recipe, ingredients, a kitchen utensil, online and printable resources, and an instructional video created by a youth leader or local chef, including Rachel from Rachel’s Restaurant who created a recipe video for her delicious energy bars! 

Every week focused on a different meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and a snack. All recipes were chosen to offer youth nutritious, simple and affordable meal options that would be accessible and healthy for them. Students made overnight oats, bean salad, spaghetti squash spaghetti, energy bars, and sweet potato rounds with a spicy mayo dip. 

To facilitate their participation in making the recipes, students received measuring cups, can openers, pans, and meat thermometers. They were also provided with educational resources on meal planning, budgeting, conversions, substitutions, staple items, and nutrition. To reach youth outside of the school, the recipe videos and resources were shared on the G2G Grads Facebook page and Instagram account.

At the end of the project, G2G Grads had a prize draw in which any local youth 15 to 18 years could enter by interacting with our social media pages or contributing their own instructional recipe video. The grand prize included a Ninja Blender, a stainless-steel frying pan, oven mitts, a measuring cup, and a private online cooking class with a chef from Argentina (won by Bryaire Forbes). An additional three names were drawn to win a Cuisinart Bread Maker (Chloe Cameron), a Cuisinart Stand Mixer (Grace Wheeler) and an Instant Pot (Sydney McArthur).

We believe the G2G Grads project was a success in building local youth’s comfort and confidence in their food and independent living skills to help them have a smooth transition to post-secondary while following a healthy lifestyle. This was based on feedback from Food and Nutrition course instructor Michelle Minke and students themselves. 

Haley and Neica quoted, “We have liked learning about recipes we have never even heard of and how to make them”, while Payton quoted, “With all of these new experiences we will be well equipped in life to cook for ourselves after high school.” 

The G2G Grads team is grateful to Ledge Leadership and the Grey Bruce Youth Engagement Network, as well as our host agency TMP for the opportunity to implement this project. We would also like to sincerely thank our community partners BPDS and the Good to Go meal program for their support, and Scott’s Home Hardware and Peacock’s Foodland for helping us to source quality cookware to give to students.