Food literacy campaign pulls kids into the kitchen

Sally, Janey and George Van Straaten are taking part in a province wide food literacy program, that’s encouraging kids to cook more.

“We can bond in the kitchen, and sometimes argue about whose doing what, but that comes with the territory,” says Sally.

The Van Straaten’s are one of many Ontario families taking their shot at the “Six by Sixteen Challenge,” organized by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

“The Six by Sixteen Challenge is a food literacy program that the OFA developed to get kids to learn how to cook six nutritious meals by the time they’re 16,” says OFA Director, and Perth County farmer, Brent Royce.

From a parent’s perspective, teaching kids the difference between a spatula and spinach, makes sense.

“Well from my point of view, it’s having help in the kitchen and getting the kids to learn to make more meals for themselves, and for us, when we’re busy,” says Sally Van Straaten, a Perth County egg farmer.

From the OFA’s perspective, getting kids to reach for lettuce over “lunchables”, at a young age, makes for more discerning food consumers, in the future.

“When I went to college, we lived on macaroni dinner. We know that’s not necessarily the healthiest, so this is to help make the kids capable of creating healthy, nutritious, locally sourced meals. It sets them up for life,” says Royce, who farms near Listowel.

Janey Van Straaten is well on her way to her six meals by the age of sixteen goal, but her brother, George, not so much.

“He likes to do the mixing and the taste testing,” says Janey.

“I like to lick the spoons,” says George.

The OFA has partnered with Bell Media to promote the Six by Sixteen Challenge across Ontario through a series of videos.

You can learn more by visiting www.sixbysixteen.me