Giving back to the community is an enormous part of what we do at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. Each term of the Culinary Nutrition Expert program, we offer several scholarships targeted toward the strengths and interests of our students. In this Expert Spotlight, we’re checking in with Cherryl Small, who was the 2014 recipient of the ‘Share the Widsom’ scholarship for individuals who work for not-for-profit organizations in a teaching role.
Tell us a little bit about the not-for-profit organization you work for/volunteer with.
The non-profit organization I have been volunteering with for over five years now is the “Field To Table Schools” program run by FoodShare Toronto. This program provides food education to school aged children from JK to Grade 12. The goal is to empower students to make healthy food choices by providing them with education, skills development and hands-on participation of our food system from “seed-to-plate”.
In addition, I also work as a Parent Peer Leader for FoodShare and the goal of this team is to share ideas, discuss challenges, support each other and strengthen the family commitment to healthy eating.
What inspired you to apply for a Share the Wisdom Scholarship?
For many years I have followed Meghan in her career as a nutritionist. Throughout those years, I have been inspired by her passion, knowledge and focus. Yes, I am a huge fan! There is no doubt in my mind that Meghan is a trailblazer. I was doing a lot of work in the community and felt I was impacting many lives in a positive way, but wanted to reach more people with my message. I knew completing the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program would allow me to touch more lives and that this was the program for me!
I was fortunate to be on my computer one day when I came across the information to apply for the Share the Wisdom Scholarship. At the time, I didn’t have the financial resources to enroll in the program and with only a few days left to apply, I knew I had nothing to lose. About one week later, I got the good news – I received the scholarship! My feet were definitely doing a little happy dance that day! This scholarship has had a powerful and positive impact on my business, empowering me with the leadership skills and culinary skills necessary to bring wellbeing to many people through the power of food. Expanding my own knowledge has equipped me with the ability to continue to educate others.
How has the Culinary Nutrition Expert Program changed your perspective on health and cooking?
When I graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, my primary focus was on supplementation and putting together protocols. At that time, I decided to work in a health food store for one year so I could gain as much knowledge as possible about vitamins and minerals. During that time my focus gradually started to shift, and I realized that food was the real medicine. Today, I feel supplementation is best as an adjunct and should be narrowed down to only what is essential.
Since completing the CNE Program, I am even more convinced that there is no substitute for eating a diet filled with whole foods that are plant strong! Armed with a wealth of information, my focus is to connect with individuals and families to show them how to create, cook and share delicious, healthy food. I now also have a new love and appreciation for Indian spices and raw foods.
What was the most rewarding part of the program for you?
The most rewarding aspect of the CNE Program has been the sense of accomplishment and the empowerment I feel knowing I completed the course and that I am a part of this incredible community. The curriculum was comprehensive, informative and practical. It provided the necessary tools to run a viable culinary nutrition business.
How have you been putting what you learned into practice in your life, your business and/or helping someone else?
I continue to facilitate food literacy workshops for FoodShare and various community groups, educating and engaging schoolchildren and parents in the kitchen to connect with their food. I am in the planning stages for a series of cooking classes for children 3 – 16 years of age. I will be leading a series of adult cooking classes at Erindale Presbyterian Church in Mississauga in the Spring of 2015 and I am currently working on customized plant-based meal plans for individual clients.