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Cook it up for teens

Pastry chef April Qureshi of The Sweet Chef Artisan Bakery in Gibsons is offering her skills to local teens in a five-week cooking course called Cook It Up.

Pastry chef April Qureshi of The Sweet Chef Artisan Bakery in Gibsons is offering her skills to local teens in a five-week cooking course called Cook It Up.

This free course is hosted by the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) with recreation program co-ordinator Ted Chisholm at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre. The course runs every Friday from Oct. 2 to Oct. 30 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and will culminate in a festive dinner for the teens and invited adults from the community.

This new program is offered as part of the youth recreation program at the Community Centre. It is designed to enhance teens' skills in regards to healthy cooking and eating habits. Teens can expect to learn such skills as reading and interpreting Canada's Food Guide and nutritional labelling on food packages as well as finding recipes, shopping for, preparing and cooking easy and nutritious meals.

"Some of the kids come here after school and they're hungry. They haven't eaten all day," said Chisholm. "They grab a bowl of popcorn and think they are making a good choice and that's their breakfast, lunch and afterschool snack."

After hearing about these kids in the youth group, Qureshi said she felt she had to lend a hand.

"I know what these kids are going through. When my brother and I were growing up, we were fortunate enough to have three square meals a day, but most dinners were prepared ourselves while waiting for mom to get home from work," she said. "I'm doing this as volunteer. I'm also inspired by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and how he raised the profile for providing nutritious meals for students in England."

The Youth Centre operates in partnership between SCRD parks and recreation and Gibsons and Elphinstone Community School and relies on donations from the community, local businesses and government. Some of the sponsors include Rotary Club, MarketPlace IGA and SuperValu, Seaweeds Health Food Store and individuals. Organizers are looking for monetary donations and fresh food for this program.

To find out more about this program, contact the SCRD at 604-885-6800, ext. 6624, or email gibsonsyouthcenter@dccnet.com.

To donate to the program, contact Qureshi at april@thesweetchef.com or 604-989-2253.

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