Designed to encourage and support parents in helping their children learn the skills they need to eat well for life, Family Kitchen is an initiative from the team of registered dietitians at Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC). Family Kitchen aims to increase parents’ awareness of the importance of developing their children’s food and cooking skills in the home.1
A Family Kitchen is simply a welcoming place where families cook and learn together while building wonderful memories.
Through an evidence-based approach, we aim to inspire families to spend more time together in the kitchen. Our long-term goal is to engage Ontario parents and their pre-adolescent2 children in sustainable behaviours that build cooking skills, and support lifelong nutrition and food literacy.
To reach out to parents and families, the Family Kitchen initiatiave includes:
FamilyKitchen.ca – which features tips on getting started, recipes for different skill levels, family-oriented food activities, and videos of real-life families who cook together
To better understand how parents prioritize cooking in relation to other life skills as well as how these skills are imparted to children in the home, DFC conducted extensive research, including a literature review, ethnographic study, quantitative surveys, and focus groups with parents. By examining the results and identifying key insights, we developed resources and pathways to help parents tackle the challenges of passing on cooking and nutrition knowledge to their children. To learn more about our research findings, view this webinar.
What we learned
Families that cook together share a common belief that “the kitchen is ours” and that it is the centre of family life where everyone pulls together as a team.
This shared philosophy is the basis of our approach:
Fun that speaks to all kinds of families
All kinds of families can laugh and learn while cooking together, even if parents aren’t highly skilled cooks themselves. And while our research supports a focus on mothers (as they still tend to be the primary role models and teachers of food preparation in the home), dads and other family members, like grandparents, play an important role as well.
An ideal experience for pre-teens
Family Kitchen speaks to parents of 10 to 12 year olds because pre-teens tend to be curious about food and cooking and have the necessary motor skills to jump right in. Creating a family-friendly kitchen early on is important because when kids reach adolescence, they often have many other new and competing interests.
Our research shows that children really do enjoy cooking and see it as an opportunity to express themselves creatively. Plus, when children participate in cooking at a young age they are able to build their skills and sense of independence gradually. The earlier they start cooking, the more likely they are to continue using these skills into adulthood.
Dairy Farmers of Canada is a national non-profit organization run by and for Canadian dairy farmers. DFC employs over 20 Registered Dietitians to help Canadians adopt and maintain healthful eating and lifestyle practices. As stewards of a critical component of our food supply, dairy producers have an inherent interest in ensuring that Canadians appreciate the natural goodness, safety and high quality of Canadian milk.
The Registered Dietitians at DFC play an important role in encouraging individuals and communities to be well and eat well. Registered Dietitians have advanced training in nutrition science, research, education and communication and work with like-minded individuals and organizations, including governments, health organizations, teacher associations, educators and researchers, to help Canadians achieve their healthy eating goals. Many of DFC’s nutrition and health programs have won awards and are often on the leading edge of nutrition education in their respective communities.