Island Food Skills Initiative to become 'truly Island initiative'

The Island Food Skills Initiative, which teaches young people how to prepare healthy local food, is growing to make it a "truly Island initiative," says organizer Chris Sallie.

For the first time, the Island Food Skills Initiative will offer programming in Summerside

Island Food Skills Initiative participants enjoying some fondue at Glasgow Glen Farm last summer. (Island Food Skills Initiative/Facebook)

A program that teaches young people how to prepare and enjoy healthy local food is growing to make it a "truly Island initiative."

The Island Food Skills Initiative, which started in Charlottetown in 2015 with workshops and a summer camp, is now expanding to Summerside.

Chef and program director Chris Sallie graduated from the Culinary Institute of Canada at Holland College. After 10 years in the industry, he decided to pass along some of his skills to young people and help them connect with local food.

"I saw there was a need and I found a way to take my skill sets and kind of apply them to the community, which is awesome," said Sallie.

Program director and chef Chris Sallie wants to pass along his love of healthy local food to Island kids. (Matt Rainnie/CBC)

He said 2015 was a "big year" with programs that took the initiative across the province. One program looked at how food industry professions are viable options for young people to consider. They visited an oyster farm, a cheese factory and got to hang out with P.E.I. chefs like Michael Smith.

They also enjoyed a tour of the Culinary Institute to enforce the importance of education.

"Especially considering the tourism nature of the Island, a lot of kids could see some potential working in kitchens."

Sallie said the kids "light up" during the experiences and the parents are just as engaged.

In February, a program will be available with chef Stephanie Lutz at the restaurant Gen XX, which Saillie said will make his non-profit a "truly Island initiative."

He also plans to introduce a program this fall for people with cognitive disabilities and their primary caregivers.

Saillie, also a full-time student at UPEI, fundraises to keep the program free and "accessible" to participants. He said it costs about $1,600 to run a course for 20 kids.

Upcoming programs and information on how to donate can be found at the Island Food Skills Initiative's Facebook site.

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