The sweet aroma of food being prepared at Dartmouth’s Community and Family Services through the Cook with a Budget program can be experienced year round on the third Wednesday of each month.
Linda Santoloce was inspired by a friend to approach The Salvation Army to start this program. Linda says, “Food is my background; I sold my catering company in Toronto to escape the big city; this program gives me the opportunity to do what I love and give back at the same time.”
Starting in Dartmouth in 2013, the program quickly grew in popularity, which offered great space and interest; a second location followed at the Centre of Hope on Gottingen Street where the program runs the second Tuesday of each month. Cook with a Budget not only helps participants learn to cook different meals, but they also gain life skills and new relationships.
Linda says “In Dartmouth, The Salvation Army has built a great rapport with many young people, reaching out to them with programs like Moms and Tots and Cook with a Budget.” She adds, “This group has gotten to know each other so it’s become a social occasion where everyone has a role to play in the kitchen.”
Linda gives excellent guidance and instruction during the cooking process and regularly checks on all participants to ensure they are comfortable with what and how they are preparing the food. She prepares ingredients in advance to help the process go smoothly.
Participant, Blessing, originally from Nigeria is helping The Salvation Army settle other immigrants in Dartmouth and brought her children as babysitting is available during the program. She says, “I love to cook and want to learn how to cook Canadian dishes and understand the food culture here mostly to eat healthy.”
Recipes are determined based on those with few ingredients that are quick and tasty, as well as at the request of participants. Linda says, “It’s budget cooking, we can make very tasty dishes with minimal ingredients while removing the stigma of poverty.”
The end product last month was French onion soup, broccoli and cheese soup with a little bit of cream, chicken dumpling soup made with lean ground chicken and spices, topped with a pastry apple crisp pizza for dessert all at the low cost of under $50.
When asked about her first experience with the Cook on a Budget program, Christine McColl, administrative and program staff member says, “This program brings everyone together, cooperating in a team environment eating healthy easy to make food that feeds many and allows for leftovers; participants also take new recipes home.”
For more information about programs at Dartmouth Community and Family Services, visit http://sadartmouth.org/ or The Salvation Army Dartmouth Community Church on Facebook.