Kahnawake community cooking workshop turned online show wins Quebec innovation award Innovation

A community cooking program in Kahnawake, south of Montreal, won the innovation award at this year’s Order of Dietitians and Nutritionists of Quebec award gala.

What’s for Lunch — an online show hosted by parenting support worker Frankie Massicotte and dietician Chantal Haddad — introduces families to healthy recipes through Facebook live videos and gives free ingredients to those who sign up for their healthy cooking sessions.

“We often hear about children who are selective eaters and parents have a hard time feeding them because they have a very limited repertoire of food so this is a way to really prevent that pickiness with food,” Haddad, who works at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre, told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak.

“Getting the kids involved, getting them familiar, making them feel a part of it is very, very important.”

Before the pandemic hit, Massicotte would invite Haddad to the Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services wellness centre to demonstrate recipes for children and supply them with ingredients.

Health restrictions forced them to move sessions online, but the hosts say a digital format is even more interactive for participants.

Tina McComber, left, and her granddaughter Lerihwatshenrie’s Stacey, 5, tuned into the show this fall. (Submitted by Frankie Massicotte)

Now, interested viewers can return to the videos at a later date and many send pictures of how their meals turned out.

If anything, Massicotte says sharing the sessions online has helped participants stay connected in times of physical distancing.

“This is a great opportunity to use this time to ask [kids] the harder questions or to kind of get them to open up about things that they’re struggling with,” she said. “We also think that it’s a great way to bring wellbeing into the family.”

What’s for Lunch was originally an in-person cooking workshop at the Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services wellness centre. (Submitted by Frankie Massicotte)

Participating families receive the same ingredients Massicotte and Haddad use for recipes so they can follow along as they watch the show from home.

“When we think about making a new recipe often we hesitate because of the costs,” Massicotte said. “By us giving the free ingredients, it really gets families to try different things that perhaps they wouldn’t buy if they were at the grocery stores.”

As an initiative based in Kahnawake, Haddad says it’s also important for them to highlight traditional ingredients, including the three sisters: corn, beans and squash.

“It’s also teaching kids that there’s money involved,” Massicotte said. “There’s so much background to actually just preparing dinner or lunch or breakfast that just doesn’t involve putting a plate in front of somebody.”

social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #thisisnotapost #thisisart