Growing up in Jamaica, Marlene Mason started cooking for family of 21. “Food is the way into so many people’s hearts,” she says, and for the past ten years, through the East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club, she has touched many hearts.
“Food is the way into so many people’s hearts.”
As the developer of food service, Mason works to provide food for the many programs that the youth and family-oriented organization serves. Working with donations from Second Harvest and others, she is able to provide healthy, prepared meals as the mainstay for whoever is in need, even preparing hampers for a family who had lost their home to fire.
The 20-year Scarborough resident has a background in food and nutrition and a strong belief in young people.
“I have been in the community for a long time and it takes a community to raise kids.”
East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club has over 7,000 participants a year in programs ranging from early childhood education to family resource centres, special needs consultation, drop-in programs, and life skill and crisis intervention for children and youth. “I love being able to talk to them, to see where they are going and help them along the way,” she says.
Among the programs at the Club is Harvest Kitchen, which trains adults and youth in food handling and preparation. Working under the supervision of food service professionals, Harvest Kitchen trainees learn the skills of the trade while turning recovered food into nourishing prepared meals that Second Harvest then delivers to agencies for families and individuals in high-need communities.
It is also an example of the type of program the Club provides to help people achieve a self-sufficient future.
“We need to look out for our youth. Help them. They need us to listen to them and help them plan for their future and their careers.”