There is a wealth of research demonstrating nutrition-related issues in newly resettled refugee populations. These issues include access issues / food insecurity, language barriers and little familiarity with foods available in Canada, budgeting constraints, and limited health knowledge. This program aims to train students in the CSL program to help their family-match improve their food security and to learn valuable health-promoting behaviours upon their arrival.
Students are trained in basic nutrition principles specific to refugee families, from evaluating products to communication and food safety to budgeting tips. In addition, refugee families are connected with community resources (i.e. local food bank and Mobile Market) in order to help improve their food security. Students are then encouraged to go visit a grocery store with their family-match to show them how to navigate and optimize purchases for health and budget. Students are also encouraged to research culturally appropriate food alternatives and help the families’ access food from their own culture, while introducing nutritious Canadian staples. Nutrition workshops are provided each year to allow refugee families come together with students and share an afternoon of healthy cooking and learning. Finally, students are encouraged to organize a hands-on meal to cook with their match-families after the grocery shopping session, in order to create an informal environment in which to discuss nutrition, health, and to better get to know their families.