Cooking with joy

We all know the power of food. It doesn’t just nourish our body. It builds connections. It builds community. Understanding this, the Joy Cooking Group launched their first community cooking session at the Bathurst-Finch Community Hub recently.

14 women from the local community gathered to learn how to cook Biryani, a mix of vegetables, rice and spices. It was a great way for residents in Bathurst-Finch to try something new. It was a great way to learn from each other. And it was another moment showing food’s power to reduce social isolation and create community.

Community members prepare biryani together at 'Cooking With Joy'

The project was initiated by the Bathurst-Finch Food Action Team to address needs in the Bathurst-Finch Community. The Food Action Team found that there was no regular community kitchen programming at the hub, even though a lot of seniors seek this type of programming.

A little bit of history

In 2016, the Food Action Team, in partnership with Toronto Public Health, piloted a project “Cooking with Skills.” It took place once a month for three consecutive cooking sessions asking seniors and adults if there is a desire for this type of programming. In the sessions participants learned knife skills, healthy eating and were introduced to the food guide.

Community members made their desire for kitchen programming clear, even if it was once a month. In the fall of 2016, participants convened to discuss how we could sustain programming since funding is a major obstacle. The group came up with different suggestions such as personal contributions of items that are needed to cook the dish of choice.

Finally this February, participants were able to gather and cook. It was such a great day. Watching them work together in the kitchen and even with the funding constraint these women was able to push it through.

by Jeanny Gonzalez, Community Food Animation Senior Coordinator