VIHA community nutritionist Hélène Dufour shows her display highlighting the amount of sugar in various popular beverages. Dufour and other VIHA dietitians encourage families to eat together.

Families put their best foot forward

A community program that promotes eating together has gained popularity in Port Alberni over the past few months.

A community program that promotes eating together has gained popularity in Port Alberni over the past few months.

Dad’s Night Out is a free, drop-in program. In January more than 60 dads and their children, aged three to nine, joined community nutritionist Hélène Dufour to cook up their own pizza.

Dads were able to make a meal with their kids, learn about the benefits of family meals and enjoy eating together.

This is a theme that Dietitians of Canada are promoting during Nutrition Month in March.

There are dietitians working in more than 15 departments across Vancouver Island Health Authority, ranging from acute care and outpatient clinics, diabetes education centres and food services to Home and Community Care and Assisted Living. Included in this group are 11 dietitians working in Vancouver Island Health’s Child Youth and Family, Community Health and Aboriginal programs across the Island.

Working out of Public Health Units, their target populations are families with a focus on early childhood, maternal health and at-risk populations as well as kids and youth in schools.

“Everyone should have access to safe, nutritious, local food along with the knowledge to prepare it,” says Swati Scott, community nutritionist with VIHA. “We know that eating healthy food plays an important role in staying healthy and our goal is to assist families in how to choose and prepare nutritious meals they can enjoy together.

“After all, food brings families together; it connects us with our culture and inspires us to nourish our bodies and minds.”

Rob Gentleman, whose wife Sandra is a dietitian in Port Alberni, attended the January Dad’s Night Out pizza event with his two kids, ages seven and 10. “I don’t want to sound like the stereotypical dad, but I think it can be a real novelty for kids to see their dad cooking and they love it,” said Gentleman.

“My kids had a great time and they were very creative with their pizzas, turning them into works of art using unique toppings like broccoli.”