Blogger tries to get students off KD

Do you know someone who only eats pre-packed meals or Kraft Dinner? A Calgary food blogger might be able to help. Dan Clapson has created a free, 10-week program to teach 15 students how to cook. Applications for the program are due Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. and University of Calgary students can apply online. So far, Clapson has received about 50 applications.

“We go through all the applications and pick the 15 kids in most dire need of culinary assistance,” said Clapson.

The applications ask students questions about their cooking experience, the amount they spend on food each week, their favourite restaurants and their least preferred food.

Clapson said many students leaving home for the first time eat badly because they are intimidated by the idea of cooking their own meals.

“Some people who don’t cook very often don’t really realize how easy it is,” said Clapson.

Clapson said he was inspired to teach after he was in the supermarket one day and saw two university aged shoppers with a cart full of pre-packaged meals. He hopes to ween students off packaged food with preservatives and teach them how to cook meals from scratch.

“There will be an emphasis on quick and easy, ideally meals that take under 45 minutes to prepare and eat,” said Clapson. “We’re going to try to have meals that you can have for supper, and the next day, they can be your lunch.”

“I think it’s a really great program,” said Students’ Union vice-president student life Jennifer Abbott. “[The] Students’ Union partnered with Kick the KD, so we provided him with the table in MacHall and have helped promote the event.”

“This is something we can’t provide at the university because we don’t have open kitchens,” Abbott continued.

The program will offer different themes each week for cooking styles and types of diets like vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.

“We’ll be cooking with beer and wine, just to show people you can do that kind of thing and it’s not hard,” said Clapson, “I think we’re going to do a beer-can chicken with roasted potatoes and stuffing on the side.”

The Calgary Co-op has made a donation to the campaign along with hosting all the cooking in the community room of their midtown market location.

“We like the thought of teaching students to eat how to eat healthy, and it doesn’t have to be difficult to do,” said Calgary Co-op communications manager Karen Allan. “We would like to gain more awareness with the student population on better eating habits.”

Thanks to the help of sponsors the program is free to students. Steam Whistle, Pilsner and yelp.ca, an online restaurant review site, have also come onboard to support Clapson’s initiative.

“Yelp is going to be compiling a list of student-friendly restaurants that are relatively inexpensive or maybe have deals on certain days of the week,” said Clapson.

Clapson is in the middle of writing a cookbook and writes for the Canadian Food Network. He also creates recipes which he posts on his blog.

Classes start Feb. 10, and run on Thursday nights from 6:30-8 p.m..

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