CAPC in New Westminster explores the Food Skills for Families Program


The Parenting in Canada CAPC Program offered by the Family Services of Greater Vancouver recently partnered with the Canadian Diabetes Association  to host a 6-week Food Skills for Families workshop series within their regular 10 week program. Offered to the Spanish-speaking parenting group in New Westminster, this program provided moms with what was often their first opportunity to learn about nutrition and cooking. Child minding was provided and bus tickets helped moms with transportation barriers attend the program.

Each week, the group cooked a meal with teams of 2 or 3 moms working together on each course (appetizer, main, sides or beverages). The group then sat down to enjoy the meal and then discuss how they could recreate this meal at home. At the end of each session, moms left with recipes and food to create healthy meals at home.

For this newcomer group the debrief was particularly important. Facilitator Maylen Crespo noted that Latino’s typically experience higher rates of diabetes, and that the nutrition talks provided an opportunity for the moms to learn about how feeding children in Canada may differ from feeding children in their country of origin. One example she provided is that a lack of Vitamin D is not a concern is most Latin countries, yet is something to consider when parenting in Canada’s colder climate.

One of the highlights of the program was a tour of Save on Foods. Here, a nutritionist led the group around the store while teaching them about healthy choices. The moms felt encouraged and inspired when seeing firsthand how they could keep the nutritional information they’d learned in mind while still being able to make choices about what to buy for their families.

This was actually not the first time that Family Services of Greater Vancouver worked with Canadian Diabetes to offer these workshops to newcomer moms. The ESL for Mothers and Caregivers also offered the program. This multicultural group of women from Sudan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Mexico, Korea and China previously took part in the program and the success of this experience is what led Family Services to introduce the program to the Parenting in Canada CAPC Program. Both of these programs work with participants who have young children, are newcomers to Canada, and often have low literacy and income levels.

At the beginning of the Food Skills for Families program, one participant shared with the group that she disliked cooking very much. At the end of the 6-week program she felt more positive about cooking and her confidence in trying new recipes had increased. She was happy to have joined the program and to have found the Parenting in Canada group.


The Canadian Diabetes website describes Food Skills for Families as:

“A hands-on program that makes healthy eating, shopping and cooking easy, quick and fun. Cooking healthy food at home that is tasty and appealing to our families is not always easy. Many of us feel we don’t have time to cook from ‘scratch’ and have never had the experience of cooking our own meals with nutritious delicious foods. There are several reasons for this. Many people have limited income, many are new to Canada and its food system, and many are living with or at risk of chronic diseases. One thing common to all of us, however, is that we are all concerned about the health of our families. Choosing and preparing healthy food is essential to healthy living.”

A wide range of community groups have hosted Food Skills for Families courses. Typically, host organizations will provide an equipped kitchen, participants, and funding to cover the facilitator and program costs. The Canadian Diabetes Association continues to seek funding to subsidize the cost of running this program. 

Please visit the Canadian Diabetes website if you are interested in hosting a Food Skills for Families program.