Preparing hot healthy food may be the opportunity high-risk youth on the West Shore need to make a fresh start.
Pacific Centre Family Services Association has applied for a $25,000 grant from the provincial government to open a bistro at the West Shore Child, Youth and Family Centre on Wale Road.
“The program would need to be subsidized,” said Mitzi Dean, the associations executive director.
The concept hasn’t been completely pinned down, but Dean would like to see high-risk and other interested youth work at the proposed cafe to gain experience.
The eatery would likely be staffed with youth 13 to 19 years old who do not attend school and need something to keep them busy and interacting in the community. A co-ordinator would be hired.
Opportunities are open for teens to explore any area of interest. For instance, Dean explains youth with a passion for design could design the menu or logo.
“We want to help kids build their resume and give back to the community,” Dean said. “We want this to be a place where youth feel connected. We want to promote engagement with youth, the bistro is just sitting empty right now.”
The building was built in 2005 with the small bistro and large commercial kitchen. The bistro was operating about six years ago with limited hours. That was before Dean worked at the facility.
“We are delighted the bistro will be used for a program for youth. It’s a wonderful opportunity for young people to gain valuable work experience, learn new skills, and contribute to the community,” said Jessica Woollard, communications officer for Children’s Health Foundation. “The bistro is a wonderful example of collaboration that benefits youth in the community.”
Dean spoke to the seven tenants, with more than 100 employees, in the building. All appear eager for a bistro. Aside from staff, the building gets families travelling through daily for appointments and programs.
“This is a stroller park,” Dean explained, of the programs operating out of the facility include the Best Babies program.
“Moms could come for a program and then stay for a coffee and a healthy snack.”
The project could also help local farmers she said.
“We would also like to fit this into West Shore food security system. We could do local sourcing within 10 kilometres.”
The association expects to hear back from the provincial government at the end of March about the grant application.
If the grant is denied, Dean is already working on a plan B.
Dean would like to hear from businesses or food producers interested in being a part of the proposed project. For more information call Dean at 250-478-8357.