The Overcast’s annual Albedo Grant gives a local, community-bettering endeavour a pot of cash to help them do their thing. The emphasis is on start-ups or an organization facing a specific financial barrier to growth. This year’s pot is $12,500, courtesy of sponsors/jurors Dean MacDonald, John O’Dea, and Phil Keeping’s family. We will reveal this year’s top 5 contenders, one a day all week long, before announcing the winner as May’s cover story. 

Who Is Amanda, and What’s Her Plan?

Now that we’re foodie city, why not use all our expertise to get kids food conscious and competent? Especially given the grim stats we’ve all read: did you know rates of obesity in Canadian children have tripled since 1980?

Our 1st contender comes to us courtesy of Amanda Bulman, a librarian, stand-up comic, board member of Unpossible, and of particular relevance to this application: she’s the fundraising coordinator for the NL School and lunch Association, and a chef (formerly of Reluctant Chef fame).

Bulman is also the force behind the Holy Grail Donut Pop-up, and was the creator and coordinator of the very successful St. John’s Cookie Throwdown.

“My passion is teaching people to cook and I am one of the instructors at both the Memorial Dominion and the Blackmarsh Dominion.” She says her new project will be a “safe afterschool activity at a low cost, and will help instil values like local eating, gardening, and sustainability, into the next generation.

About the Project …

To get kids “excited about making healthy food,” Amanda will create a hands-on cooking education program that will teach cooking right down to learning about food and ingredients. Children will be led through a curriculum that gives them hands-on experiences growing ingredients and cooking their own food in an afterschool program.

“There are many current existing models on which to build a curriculum that makes sense for elementary age children on the Northern Avalon Peninsula,” says Bulman. “Some, like ‘Young Chefs: From Cooking to Science,’ have a science-based philosophy. Others, like the ‘Growing Chefs Program’ in Vancouver focus on creating indoor gardens with students, and teaching them about sustainability, nutrition, agriculture, and recipe creation.”

For Bulman, “a simple and fun approach is probably the best approach.” She envisions an afterschool program where volunteer chefs visit classrooms, help students plant and tend indoor gardens, engage the students in games and activities, assist in harvesting the vegetables, and finally teach kids to cook healthy meals with what they have grown.

It will be a very interactive, activity-based program. And since the chefs will be volunteers, who lend their skills for the betterment of the next generation, the program would be very affordable for parents.

Infinite Partnership Potential …

“The potential for building partnerships is unlimited,” Bulman says, referring to feelers she’s already put out to organizations as varied as Memorial University’s Faculty of Education, MUN Botanical Garden, and Mallard Cottage.

Another natural partnership, she says, would be with the Friends of Pippy Park. “They have a beautiful community garden and as an organization, they are incredibly interested in community based projects.”

The Restaurant Association of NL is another natural partner. “As a chef, I personally know that many of my colleagues would be thrilled to volunteer their time on a project like this.” Additionally, several local restaurants have in-house smokers, gardens, and animals that provide potential teaching opportunities.

At the end of the day, for Bulman, it comes down to this: “Learning to cook and garden are essential life skills that do not get taught in school, and I want this program to be accessible to students from all manner of economic background.”

How Will They Use the $12,500 Albedo Grant Exactly?

“This grant money will help us buy ingredients for a small test run of schools. It will pay for meetings between potential partners. It will pay for us to buy classroom gardening equipment for a small number of schools.”

“We’ll be able to host workshops held by professional gardeners to teach our volunteers. We’ll be able to look into purchasing safe cooking equipment that small hands can handle. We want to buy seeds from local growers, which is a healthier, but pricier option. Ultimately, this money will kickstart our program and take us from meetings to actual building.”