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Making Meals Memorable for Youth

Your donations along with gifts from TransCanada Pipeline, the City Enrichment Fund, PC Children’s Charity, 100 Men Who Give a Damn, Charity of Hope, Mischa Weisz Foundation and The Children’s Fund help Jose continue to create and cook delicious and nutritious meals for our Youth Food Programs!

“I was serving lunch to the kids in the community summer camp last year, when a boy probably 10, came up to me after licking his plate clean to tell me how much he enjoyed the meal. He continued to tell me how lucky I was that I didn’t work, and was just able to cook for kids all day. I laughed and nodded in agreement—I really am lucky to cook for these kids each day, even if it really is my job.”
After sharing this story, Jose sat back and smiled, “It’s a good feeling to be able to cook for others and see them smile when they eat my food,” he said, “It’s also amazing to see how far a lot of them have come since the beginning of the year.”

Jose is our beloved Community Food Advocate. He works with Sue, our Procurement Manager, to create menus for the Youth Food Programs as well as for Willow’s Place and for clients enrolled in the alternative justice program. “We develop the menu based on items we have available” Jose explained, “but we are also fortunate to have donated funds so we can buy items we think will make the meals more nutritious and interesting.” Jose and Sue work very hard to implement a healthy and diverse menu for each of the food programs and keep track of the meals that people seem to love! Keeping track allows Jose to make fan favorites every once in a while and improve the methods for getting the kids to eat their veggies!

Not only does Jose limit the amount of premade food used when he is cooking, but he also likes to introduce unique items that people might not have tried before. “My favourite is when the kids come in and see a vegetable they don’t recognize and so they ask what it is,” Jose said smiling, “I tell them to try a little bit first and see what they think, and then I will tell them what it is. Sometimes they don’t like it, but usually they enjoy it!”
For Jose, the best part of his job is cooking for and serving the 70-80 kids from the Youth Afterschool Meal Program each day. “Food is everything,” Jose exclaimed, “that’s why it’s so important we continue to feed these kids dinner and pack them lunches for school the next day. For some this might be their only meal all day.” The Youth Afterschool Meal Program helps to overcome the barrier to good food that so many children living in poverty face. Thanks to your gifts, Mission Services of Hamilton is able to continue providing access to healthy food for youth throughout the school year and all summer long.

“The kids are eating more, trying new things and enjoying healthy food. What more could I ask for!” – Jose