TORONTO — Barilla Canada is extending its partnership with Covenant House, providing a product-and-cash donation totaling $18,000 to feed and support homeless youth and survivors of sex trafficking.
The COVID-19 pandemic is amplifying food insecurity, leaving vulnerable youth without access to healthy meals and limited knowledge of cooking and resources. In addition, many youth are experiencing enhanced mental-health struggles and social isolation.
To help reduce food insecurity, Barilla is supporting Cooking For Life, a hands-on training program that teaches essential cooking skills to work in hospitality, in addition to giving a donation.
“At Barilla, we believe in bringing the world high-quality food that is joyful, healthy and inspired by our Italian roots, which is why we’re so excited to be expanding this partnership with Covenant House during Mediterranean Diet Month (May). The Cooking-For-Life program goes beyond supporting youth with pre-employment training. It’s also the perfect opportunity to educate youth on how to follow a healthy lifestyle, and to show them the joys that cooking can bring, whether it’s for themselves or someone they love,” says Gino Rulli, vice-president and general manager of Barilla Canada.
Covenant House will also be receiving virtual cooking classes from Barilla to share with youth under the supervision of its chef instructor. The cooking classes will feature Barilla partner chefs and influencers, including Barilla executive chef Lorenzo Boni, registered dietitian and TV spokesperson Nicole Osinga, TikTok star and Instagram foodie Jamie Milne and food photographer and stylist Ify Yani.
“We’re beyond thankful that Barilla has extended our partnership further to help us access healthy food and educational content for our program,” says Danny Moon, chef instructor at Covenant House. “It’s been a difficult year, and we know that the simple act of cooking and eating a nourishing meal has so many emotional and health benefits. Even though our Cooking For Life program may not be able to bring together our members in the same way it always does, due to the pandemic, we’re hopeful that the virtual cooking classes and meals served by Barilla will help us continue to bridge that gap and lay the foundation for creating healthy lifelong habits for youth in need.”
Covenant House is Canada’s largest organization supporting at-risk youth, offering a variety of services to help improve their livelihoods and serving more than 300 youth each day.