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Welcoming Communities: Cooking for Community

Written by Kathryn Clark, Program Facilitator with TDSB Newcomer Services – Welcoming Communities. 

Fraser MustardWelcoming Communities is back with more soup for the soul… and the stomach! This week, we’re highlighting some amazing things happening at Fraser Mustard Early Learning Academy, and its neighbour, Thorncliffe Park Public School.

Most people recognize that getting parents involved in their child’s school community can be very important, and many parents would love to find more ways to “connect”. When the relationship between the school and the families is positive, the chances of the students being more engaged and succeeding increase too. And what is one great way to strengthen communication and form bonds? Over food, of course!

FraserMustard4Recently, the Newcomer Services – Welcoming Communities staff started a Community Kitchen program at Fraser Mustard, inviting parents to join a culinary consultant in making dumplings from scratch. In chef Susan’s words, “Dumplings came foremost to mind, for their soul food prominence in many cultures and diversity in flavours, textures, cooking styles and traditional importance.” With a diverse family community, the Community Kitchen is a wonderful way for families to come together, share stories, and try new foods.

Susan’s post on the wonderful event, including the dumpling recipes, can be found on her website, Susan’s Savour-It.


In addition to the Community Kitchen, Fraser Mustard also hosts a PALS program over lunch. The PALS initiative gives the older elementary students at Thorncliffe Park the chance to act as mentors and activity-leaders for the 650 kindergarten students at Fraser Mustard (yes, 650!).  For students who sometimes have trouble getting to school, the opportunity to develop leadership skills, and be recognized for their commitment, is a great motivator.

The PALS program, along with special guest workshops on mindfulness, and trips to the Hillcrest Outdoor Education School, are helping students connect to their school community and have a stronger sense of belonging.

Other tips on helping kids to get the most out of their school experience can be found here:

For more information on this and other settlement, employment, language training and skills development programs, please visit

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