Food Skills for Families


In the video, Nicole Fitzgerald of Shaw TV interviews families participating in the Squamish Food Skills for Families Cooking Class for Punjabi speakers.  Harjit Haer and her daughter enjoy frozen berries and soy milk smoothie, a common Canadian breakfast drink but culturally new to them. 

The six-week course aims to teach new recipes which reduce sugar, sodium and fat and which introduce locally available ingredients to modify traditional cultural recipes, and to make healthy eating fun.  Gurjit Johal, the program coordinator, notes that traditional Indian cooking normally has lots of sodium.  The new recipes show how to reduce sodium and fat whilst maintaining great taste.

The cookbooks are available in Punjabi for participants.  Mothers and daughters enjoy learning and cooking together. After the cooking is done, families enjoy eating together and talking, developing community and strengthening connections between the mothers and their daughters.

Food Skills for Families is a hands-on curriculum based program that makes healthy eating, shopping and cooking easy, quick and fun. Diabetes Canada offers this successful six-session program to teach people how to make healthy meals, snacks and beverage choices and to gain confidence in the kitchen. Programs are delivered to targeted, at risk populations.

Since 2008 over 1000 Food Skills for Families programs have been delivered in over 110 communities throughout BC.

The Program:

  • Is delivered to five target populations: low income, newcomers, Punjabi, Aboriginal and active seniors.
  • Is led by trained and certified community facilitators in kitchens within host community organizations throughout BC.
  • Encourages participation and social interaction.
  • Includes 6 sessions which are each 3 hours in length.
  • Addresses different topics based on the Canada Food Guide, including food label reading and a grocery tour.
  • Inspires and empowers participants to eat well while creating fast easy meals using fresh, whole ingredients.
  • Is a best practice curriculum which is supported by Facilitator Manuals and Participant Handbooks for each target population. 

Community host organizations find Food Skills for Families a valuable program for helping participants gain knowledge of basic nutrition and helps to build confidence in the kitchen.

The Food Skills for Families program offers a standardized best practice core curriculum that has been professionally designed by dietitians and educators. The curriculum is built on Canada’s Food Guide and adapted to meet the needs of five specific groups:  AboriginalNewcomersPunjabilow income families and Seniors.

While the program is designed for these five groups, it is applicable to those who want to prevent or manage diabetes and other chronic diseases, and to optimize their family’s health through renewed shopping and cooking skills.

The six-session curriculum involves learning components and hands-on cooking. Each session is three hours in length and taught by a Food Skills for Families Certified Community Facilitator.  Session topics include:

Session 1: Variety for Healthy Eating
Session 2: Fabulous Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grain Goodness
Session 3: Meat & Alternatives, Milk & Alternatives & Healthy fats
Session 4: Planning Healthy Meals, Snacks and Beverages
Session 5: Savvy Shopping (Grocery Store Tour)
Session 6: Celebration!

Each participant will receive an easy to use Participant Handbook filled with helpful tips and healthy, tasty recipes. A handbook has been designed for each of the five groups to meet their unique needs.

For more information about how CAPC programs have used the Food Skills for Families Program in their communities, see:

  • 10 June 2014 article on how Comox Valley CAPC combines this program with the Farmers Market Coupon program to help their participants develop and expand their nutrition skills.
  • 7 March 2014 interview with Carrie Yan, of Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, a former CAPC program participant who is tri-lingual in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, and who now works with participant families and seniors to develop nutrition skills. She uses the program as a base for teaching cooking skills and encouraging participants to try more fruits and vegetables, particularly those that are unfamiliar to them.