Volunteers Help Peel Eat Well
BRAMPTON, ON. (Jan. 15, 2010) – You would think eating well comes naturally to most people, but with busy schedules and complicated food labels it can be difficult. For 13 years, the Region of Peel’s Community Food Advisors (CFAs) have been teaching the residents of Peel how to eat well. Recently, 36 CFAs were recertified, including three who have been volunteering since Peel Public Health joined the CFA provincial program in 1997.
All CFAs are volunteers and take time out of their busy lives to teach Peel residents about healthy eating. Some also have full or part-time jobs, but they are all passionate about food and wanting to help the community’s well-being.
“I have always loved food and tried to live a healthy lifestyle,” says Rita Sharma, Region of Peel employee and CFA volunteer for 13 years. “Volunteering as a CFA has allowed me to learn more about food and different cultures, and helped me conquer my fear of public speaking.”
“As a CFA I get to make a difference in people’s lives. I give them the tools to make healthy choices,” says Barb Held, a retired teacher and CFA volunteer for 13 years. “Being a part of this wonderful program has also made me much more aware of the things I eat. It’s even rubbed off on my family.”
Volunteers in the CFA program spend one full year training with a registered dietitian before they are certified to teach in the community. “Every year the CFAs must attend ongoing educational sessions and meet service requirements to be recertified,” says Mary Kingshott-Zelem, CFA Program Co-ordinator at the Region of Peel. “This ensures our CFAs are up to date with the most current healthy eating information and deliver the best service to Peel residents.”
In their presentations and demonstrations, the CFAs cover a variety of topics including Canada’s Food Guide, eating well on a budget, menu planning and food safety. CFAs work with general adult groups of 10 or more, including community groups, seniors’ groups and multicultural organizations.
“The CFA program is a great resource for residents,” says Rita. “It gives them a chance to learn about new foods and proper portions. This program can be especially helpful to new immigrants who might not know what foods are available in Peel or how to prepare them.”
“I find it most rewarding when I’ve been able to change someone’s mind,” says Barb. “One time, I was giving a presentation to young moms, and before I even started, one woman told me she hated fruit and vegetables. So I made a fruit smoothie. After the presentation the same woman told me she loved the smoothie and couldn’t wait to make it for her kids.”
The CFA program is a collaborative partnership with Peel Public Health, the Ontario Public Health Association and the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion. Peel Public Health has been the local sponsor for the CFA program since 1997. To have a certified CFA speak to your group, please call the Region of Peel – Public Health at 905-799-7700.
The Regional Municipality of Peel was incorporated in 1974 on the principle that certain community and infrastructure services are most cost-effectively administered over a larger geographic area. The Region of Peel serves more than one million residents in the Cities of Mississauga and Brampton and the Town of Caledon.