The Port Alberni Friendship Center is promoting healthy eating through weekly cooking workshops.
Every Wednesday from 1 – 3 p.m., families are invited to attend the healthy eating workshop—Eating in Balance—where participants will work together to make meals, discuss health and food related topics.
Participants who cook and clean will receive a $10 grocery coupon for Buy-Low Foods or Quality Foods and get to take home leftover food. There is also a childminder on site for those needing child care.
“Eating healthy leads to all of our outward healthiness, our mental and physical health, and it is a very big challenge when you’re on a set budget,” said organizer Amber Flaro.
Flaro said the workshop aims to provide recipes that fit into a healthy lifestyle and are affordable.
The workshops are free to join and Flaro asks participants to register the Tuesday before by calling the Friendship Center.
“It’s week by week, there’s no certificate at the end,” Flaro said. “We do have a cooking group next door where it’s a certain amount of weeks and you get a certificate.”
According to the Government of Canada, type 2 diabetes is a health concern among Canada's First Nations and Inuit. First Nations on reserve have a rate of diabetes three to five times higher than that of other Canadians.
In a 2018 report by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), Indigenous Health and Well-Being, it states in 2015, the projected diabetes prevalence rate for Status First Nations was 12.4 per 100 population. This was 34 per cent higher than the rate for other residents.
Diabetes is a chronic condition of high blood sugar that has complex causes—including lifestyle and environment, genetic influences, and other factors—which results in ineffective use of insulin in the body, states the report. Diabetes prevalence reflects known and diagnosed cases of people living with diabetes.
According to the FNHA, food insecurity impacts health and wellbeing and having access to healthy and traditional foods helps manage diabetes.
Flaro said in the past, the Friendship Center has provided workshops that incorporate cooking traditional Indigenous foods and they may bring that practice back if they get a more regular clientele coming to the Eating in Balance Workshops.