Youth centre receives nourishing gift

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The Clearview Youth Centre will be expanding food service programming thanks to some new funding.

The youth centre was recently chosen as the recipient of a $20,000 donation from 100 Women Who Care, Southern Georgian Triangle.

Coordinator Courtney Rogers says the money will help educate, inspire and prepare local youth for challenges in the kitchen. Food focused programs are among the most popular offerings at the centre. Typically 20-25 youth show up for the Shop ‘n Cook program on Tuesdays. Participants submit their suggestions, then a menu is chosen, recipes selected and a grocery list prepared before they walk over to Foodland to stock up and return to the centre to prepare dinner. This week’s dinner was chicken Caesar wraps and sweet potato fries.

Rogers says centre staff try to impart basic skills.

“Many of them lack fundamental cooking skills like how to chop food safely,” she said. “Everyone is assigned a task. One person might grate cheese. Another will be on clean up. They have to participate to eat.”

On Thursdays, the centre is taken over by a group of Grade 6 students, currently the youngest group served. The Tuesday and Thursday programs include dinner. Snacks are provided on other days but lest anyone leave hungry, there is a grab ‘n go dinner pantry. Rogers says this emerged as a post-Covid need because so many families are struggling to make ends meet.

The centre is currently seeking someone in the community with a culinary background to expand the program to an additional night. They are also looking for a local partner to bring the food program to Creemore. While most participants for drop-in programs are from the Stayner area, Rogers says registered programs attract youth from all over Clearview. The popular March Break freezer meal program sees participants prepare two frozen meals each day. One goes home to the family. The other is donated to the food bank.

The Youth Centre receives basic funding from Clearview Township, but Rogers says as their programming expands, community support is growing. The centre received roughly $50,000 in grants this year from a variety of sources including Jump Start, The Canadian Parks and Rec Association, Canadian Women in Sport and the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Foundation’s Wellness Innovation Fund. This funding allows them to offer special programming such as lifesaving programs and swimming at the Stayner pool, skating in Creemore, lawn bowling, and a special eight-week fitness program for girls and gender diverse youth.

The donation from 100 Women Who Care will fund an additional night of Shop ‘n Cook for about a year. The Southern Georgian Triangle chapter of 100 Women brings together women from Collingwood, Creemore, Meaford, Stayner, Thornbury and Wasaga Beach who gather four times each year and each contribute $100 to a local charity selected by members. Since 2017, they have contributed more than $425,000 to causes in the community.

Information on youth centre programs is available at discoverclearviewca/youth-centre.

Contributed photo: Georgian College student Kendra MacLeod-Young (left) and Olivia Galbraith make chicken Caesar wraps in the Clearview Youth Centre kitchen.

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