Access to healthy food a ‘recipe for a success’

Photo: Rossbook House, 2014. Youngsters prepare healthy food, made possible by a Nourishing Potential grant.

Kids can’t perform at their best when they’re hungry. In response to child-serving agencies’ input, The Winnipeg Foundation’s Nourishing Potential initiative was established in 2011 to help provide healthy food and nutrition education to Winnipeg youth. The goal was to build a $5 million endowment in five years, which would generate approximately $250,000 each year in grants.

Having access to healthy food and learning about cooking and nutrition are not only key to a child’s health and well-being ¬ they also set up lifelong healthy eating habits that can help kids reach their full potential.

The Winnipeg Foundation launched Nourishing Potential to support after-school, drop-in, and summer programs to provide healthy food and nutrition education to Winnipeg kids.

“We were hearing from many youth-serving organizations that they didn’t necessarily have the resources available to provide healthy snacks,” Megan Tate, The Foundation’s Director of Community Grants, said in 2019. “We established the Nourishing Potential Fund as a way for donors to contribute, and for The Winnipeg Foundation to provide support to these community organizations.”

Along the way, several projects were launched to promote Nourishing Potential and its community impact.

In 2014, The Foundation partnered with Red River College (RRC) and local broadcaster CTV to present the Recipe for Success Video Cooking Contest. Kids in Grades 2 to 4 were invited create their best sandwich and share it on video to win great prizes, including one of three $500 grants, and a Junior Master Chef Culinary Adventure at RRC’s School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts. The results were fantastic ¬ 56 videos were submitted, and more than 3,500 votes cast. The Grand Prize winner, Strathcona Elementary School’s Wrap of Awesomeness, was featured at RRC’s Culinary Exchange restaurant.

To help in the push toward the fund’s $5 million goal, NHL star and Stanley Cup Champion Jonathan Toews became an ambassador for Nourishing Potential in the summer of 2015. Over 10 weeks, 341 generous donors joined Jonathan supporting Nourishing Potential and raised $644,000, helping the fund reach its goal by fall 2015.

In 2015, applications for the program were integrated with The Foundation’s larger Community Grants program. However, following a re-evaluation of its grantmaking, Nourishing Potential was re-introduced as a separate granting stream in early 2019.

“We heard from community organizations that Nourishing Potential was valued as a dedicated program and having it in this stand-alone capacity allows organizations to continue to apply for support while also applying for a diverse range of projects through our Community Grants program,” Tate said.

Nourishing Potential was developed through a collaboration with Assiniboine Credit Union, City of Winnipeg, Manitoba government, Wawanesa Insurance, Winnipeg Jets True North Foundation and The Winnipeg Foundation, along with generous support from donors.

Jonathan Toews walking along a sidewalk, giving high-fives to people standing along the sides
Nourishing Potential, 2015. Hockey superstar and Nourishing Potential ambassador Jonathan Toews visiting Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre.

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