Contributed by MARG BIBBY
During the past winter and spring, in the time before the covid-19 pandemic forced us to stay apart, CBAL offered a program, called Alphabet Soup, to the young families of Kimberley.
As a member of the Kimberley and District Community Founrdation, I had the pleasure of visiting with Carol Fairhurst, from CBAL, and Shannon Duncan, to learn about the Alphabet Soup program. As always, I am so impressed with the opportunities offered in our city; Alphabet Soup is a huge asset to our young children and their parents.
Carol explained to me that the program first ran in Kimberley about seven years ago but all CBAL programs are not available every year. They last ran Alphabet Soup in 2016 and this past year they could again offer the program to the community.
Alphabet Soup is geared to children 3-5 years of age, running for two hours once a week, for a five to seven week stretch. Because the program involves cooking, CBAL can only have six children attend at a time. Consequently, each child and parent gets plenty of interaction with the facilitators, Shannon and Verena. A typical day in the Early Learning Centre with this program involves cooking, eating, story time, and arts and crafts. Partnering with the Food Recovery program, Alphabet Soup participants use healthy ingredients to teach children how to prepare healthy snacks or lunches and experience different foods from what they might regularly eat. They also learn to become more independent in the kitchen, including washing produce, how to use certain veggies, and importantly, how to clean up when they’ve finished their tasty creations. All these skills help increase a child’s confidence in themselves and trying new food, as well as the ability to get along with their peers.
For parents, the program is also very beneficial. They make connections with other parents and gain access to the Food Recovery Program and Food Bank. Parents learn to use accessible, healthy ingredients to prepare foods for their children while on a budget, and see the progress of their child(ren). Through cooking and instruction, they work with their kids to develop motor skills, and early skills in numeracy and literacy. As an added benefit, families are often sent home with a meal package or ingredients for the day’s menu.
Developing skills in the kitchen is only part of the Alphabet Soup curriculum. Children also get to participate in art, crafts and story time. These often have components in common with the daily kitchen experiences.
With the donation of $1000 from the Kimberley and District Community Foundation (KDCF), Alphabet Soup was able to hire two facilitators and purchase additional food as well as arts and craft supplies. If you would like to get in touch with the Foundation please check out our website at http://kimberleyfoundation.ca or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KimberleyCommunityFoundation.
Thanks to all those involved in Alphabet Soup for your success in such a worthwhile program!