How a Community Kitchen is Helping Newcomers

participants at community kitchen sit down around a table to enjoy a meal
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Immigration and anxiety go hand in hand. Adapting to an unfamiliar culture, making healthy food choices and finding ways to feel ‘at home’ are some of the many challenges facing newcomers.

In Kelowna, B.C., The Salvation Army has partnered with Kelowna Community Resources to provide a six-week, hands-on cooking class where participants learn valuable information and, for a few hours, escape the stress of resettlement.  

“I love cooking and eating,” says Akemi, who attends the program. “I come to improve my English, meet new people and try to know Canada.”

“I come to improve my English, meet new people and try to know Canada.”

Every Tuesday, a group of 12 is introduced to a new recipe by a local chef. The class is free and no experience in cooking or skill level is needed to join.

“We want to help out people who are finding it difficult to integrate into Canada and its culture,” says Jamie Johnstone, Kelowna program coordinator. “And preparing and eating food together connects people to a wider community.”

Over several weeks, participants learn about healthy recipes, different cultures, practice their English and share stories from their homeland.

“People are so kind,” says Akemi. “It feels good to talk with them.”

“At first, participants don’t know what to expect and there is little conversation,” says Johnstone. “But it doesn’t take long before they are laughing together, learning new words and tasting new food. There is a comfort level that settles in. That’s huge.”