This story is a part of our RBC Future Launch Community Challenge (RBC FLCC) series, showcasing how youth are giving back and inspiring change by leading projects to address their communities’ needs.

With the support of the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge, Community Foundations of Canada, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. John’s, local young leader Amy Wilcox and her team are bringing nutritious meals to families in St. John’s. The Cook it Up! project in St. John’s, Newfoundland is needed now more than ever. The project is tackling food insecurity in the community, a public health issue with far reaching impacts being amplified by a global pandemic.

According to the Dieticians of Canada, Food insecurity is understood as not having enough, or not having secure access to, food because of income or financial issues.  Statistics Canada estimates that one in six children under 18 in Canada are affected by food insecurity.

“The goals [of the project] are to address the food insecurity that many of the families face daily but also to bring together families in the kitchen and at the dinner table,” Wilcox explained.

Cook it Up! provides families from the Boys and Girls Clubs with the groceries and recipes they need to make healthy meals at home.

The project was first proposed as an in-person meeting of youth to plan meals and shopping lists, followed by packing ingredients into family meal kits. Cook it Up! has not been too affected by COVID-19, with participating youth still able to safely plan meals and write shopping lists over Zoom meetings. Administrative staff from the Boys and Girls Club support the grocery kit preparation and arrange contactless delivery or pick-up for the families.

The global pandemic has highlighted the importance of the Cook it Up! project for the community.

“The biggest issue for the children and youth that we serve is food insecurity. Their families rely on school break and lunch programs as well as snack and meal programs from our Clubs. Without these services, they are struggling.” Wilcox explained.

Community Impact

The Cook it Up! team provided 25 weeks-worth of meals to 30 families, meaning Wilcox and her team gave 750 meals to the families in St. John’s who needed it most during a time of great uncertainty.

To keep going the extra mile for their community, the project team also gave the families an food security activity kit to keep children and youth entertained at home.

The grocery deliveries ended in August of 2020, but the goal is to continue running the Cook it Up! program again in the winter. If not every week, then at least on a monthly basis.

Wilcox knows how important this work is, noting, “having a meal is important, but so is spending time together with your family.”

To keep up with the work the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. John’s are doing, follow along on Facebook.

The RBC FLCC is a collaboration between Community Foundations of Canada and community foundations from coast to coast to coast. The #RBCFLChallenge youth-led projects are supported by RBC Foundation’s contribution of $2.2 million.