1: What is special about The Common Kitchen's lunch program?
Our lunch program is available in individual schools to all children in grades K-5 in Greater Victoria at no-cost to families. Our meals focus on nutrition and taste, with the goal of improving learning, physical and mental health outcomes.
2: How do kids get your food everyday?
Our meals are prepared daily in a VIHA approved facility from a culinary team who uses fresh ingredients, many of which are sourced locally. Once these meals are ready, we deliver the food directly to the schools, and our team runs the lunch service. Lunch is served on reusable bamboo trays (divided compartments) with reusable cutlery. These items are returned to our staff at the end of a lunch service, taken back to our facility and put through a commercial grade dishwashing system.
We have made every effort to portion food in an age and stage appropriate way, so there should be very little waste at the end of a service. If there are leftovers, we invite teachers and staff to take some home or put it in the compost.
3: What kind of food does The Common Kitchen provide?
Lunch meal plans are set for the month, on a 4 week rotating schedule. Each day of the week we will deliver one combination meal that will include a protein entree item, fruit, vegetable and grain. Meals will vary and be diverse. We source our food from vendors such as Gordon Food Services Sysco Canada, and local food hubs. A sample menu will be available to view shortly.
4: What are the benefits of The Common Kitchen's meal program?
Our food program does the following:
tackles food insecurity in families
supports educational outcomes by improving cognitive development and academic performance (learn, listen, play, engage)
supports social outcomes by improving communication and collaboration between teachers and students, friends
supports mental health outcomes as kids become better emotionally regulated, are less bored, have fewer conflicts, and contribute to a calmer environment
reduces the risk of childhood obesity, diabetes and chronic disease later in life
creates an opportunity for children to learn about nutrition. Informal learning about food helps kids make better choices, understand where their food comes from, how it's prepared etc.
gives schools the opportunity to redefine their values around food and eating and incorporate this knowledge into their learning approaches.
decreases food costs at home so families can allocate more money towards housing, transportation, fuel, childcare, healthcare, and activities
supports sustainable initiatives and makes every effort to reduce portion sizes and create a safe, fully reusable service system that does not rely on single use plastics.
5: Why is nutrition so important for kids?
Decades of research show that a diet high in processed foods, refined sugars, saturated and trans fat can lead to childhood obesity and diabetes, difficulties with learning and mental health challenges. Providing a school meal that is fresh, high in protein and fibre, low in sugars and sodium means kids are in an optimal state to learn, socialize, play and rest, and lowers their risk for illness and disease.
6: What is the link between poor nutrition, learning and mental health?
Poor nutrition can contribute to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, inattention, impairments in decision-making, and slower response times. Deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals can compromise brain function and increase symptoms of depression, irritability, anxiety, and more.
7: What are the healthcare costs associated with nutrition-related diseases in Canada?
Preventable, diet-related diseases cost our healthcare system close to $14 billion a year. Treating chronic disease already consumes an alarming 67 per cent of all direct health care spending. Tens of thousands of deaths each year could be avoided by changing our food intake to reflect a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and low in sugar, sodium, trans fat and processed foods.
8: How many kids live in poverty in BC and Victoria?
One in five kids in BC lives in poverty. That translates to 156, 560 kids, as per the 2019 census data. BC has the highest child poverty rate in Canada, at 18%, despite being one of the wealthiest provinces in the country.
In Victoria, 14.2% of children aged 0-17 live in poverty, which translates to
8, 510 kids.
In 2019, nearly 40,000 children accessed a food bank in BC, comprising 30% of all food bank users.
First Nations children who live on reserves account for 40.9% of kids living in poverty, and minority populations double or triple the risk of becoming impoverished.
9: What if my child has allergies, is vegetarian, or gluten-intolerant?
We are a nut-free facility, and will provide vegetarian and gluten-free options during the lunch service.