Courtenay Elementary Community School received a $10,000 grant from the Comox Valley Community Foundation and the Rotary Club of Courtenay Foundation Fund January 21.

The school was one of many recipients of the 2020 Community Enrichment and Professional Development grant for its work in supporting children and youth.

Funding will be used toward creating a more user-friendly school kitchen and help enhance the current feeding program offered to students, particularly the most vulnerable children.

The kitchen area currently serves as a multipurpose room used by many community groups. The space is occupied extensively by the school for its morning breakfast program that provides a healthy start to the day for a minimum of 10 students and often upwards around 20 children on any given day. At lunch time, the room is busy again with staff and the Parents Advisory Council (PAC) prepping a healthy meal for many students in need.

“There is a real bee-hive of activity,” explained Shawn Thir, CECSS Executive Director. “The problem is there is not enough prep space to feed kids. And because the space is getting more and more use, the room needs to be reconfigured and equipped with a better dishwasher.”

The project will begin with the installment of a commercial grade dishwasher. The next phase will entail the installment of a new sink and mobile kitchen carts to provide appropriate space for food preparation.

CECSS also envisions that a mobile kitchen island configuration may open up the opportunity for introducing simple cooking classes.

“Multiple kitchen carts with stainless steel tops and storage underneath with large mirrors overhead is ideal so that teachers can have cooking classes and students can see what’s actually going on over the table,” explained Thir.

“Courtenay Elementary already offers nutritious breakfast and lunch to many students each day. With these new facilities we’re hoping to expand both our food and community programs,” added Catherine Mason, school principal. “Our teachers are thrilled to be able to provide more inclusive nutrition education with some ‘hands on’ lessons.”

One of the many events CECSS has used the space for in recent months is for its popular Cook, Eat and Learn workshops presented by Tina Willard-Stepan, an environmental educator with the Comox Strathcona Waste Management. Her presentations are focused around teaching
sustainable practice and waste reduction when preparing healthy, unpackaged snacks and lunches.

The popular workshop will be offered again 4 February.

Mary Lee

Manager of Communications, Comox Valley Schools (School District 71)