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A “FRESH” Flare for Unlocking the Potential of Food

A “FRESH” Flare for Unlocking the Potential of Food
By Erin Martin 

     Food is a fundamental part of our social lives: with it we celebrate our culture and religion, foster new relationships, and comfort others in times of need. The act of sharing food nurtures our health in ways beyond nutrition. The experience of cooking and eating together creates memories, teaches important life skills, and incites conversation. For university students transitioning to a new life away from home, it is especially critical to learn food skills and create social support networks. FRESH, Food Resources and Education for Student Health, is a peer education program powered by Foods and Nutrition students at Brescia University College, in partnership with the Hospitality Services Department at Western University. The goal of FRESH is making the university and its affiliates the healthiest campus in Canada.

     FRESH uses a multi-faceted approach to build students’ awareness, knowledge, and food skills. Through FRESH ED events, FRESH Peer Educators have the opportunity to interact with other students to provide them with the latest evidence-based nutrition information on any given topic through informative conversations, games, recipes and credible resource handouts. The FRESH cooking demonstrations bring students together to de-stress and meet new people whom they may never have had the chance to talk to otherwise. The cooking demonstrations also allow international students to connect with peers on campus while becoming more familiar with Canadian foods.

     Peer Educators facilitate the cooking demonstrations by guiding students to create their own easy, healthy meals like vegetable-packed omelets, crepes with fresh fruit, and stir-fries. During Nutrition Month, FRESH will be hosting 7 crepe cooking demonstrations throughout Western University residences. Peer Educators engage the students in conversation through the cooking demonstration and lend their advice on meal preparation and planning, as well as ways to adapt healthy recipes. Students have a great time cooking with their friends and Peer Educators, sharing stories and laughs while learning new recipes that they can make at home.

     After each cooking demonstration, many students proudly post photos of their delicious creations on their social media accounts for friends to see. FRESH cooking demonstrations always draw a crowd and they are a great social opportunity that brings together students from all backgrounds. In the midst of a busy day running between classes, FRESH cooking demonstrations are a grounding experience for students to slow down, connect, and enjoy preparing a meal together.
 
By Erin Martin, on Behalf of FRESH

Erin is a third-year student in the Honours Specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics program at Brescia University College and an active volunteer and blogger in the field of nutrition. Erin has been a Peer Educator for two years, helping FRESH influence the campus food environment at Western University and its affiliates.

FRESH, Food Resources and Education for Student Health, is a comprehensive peer nutrition education program created by and for university students. Using multiple strategies designed to increase awareness, improve knowledge, build skills, and influence the campus food environment, FRESH offers experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students to educate their peers about all aspects of food and nutrition." 

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