Food Hero Stories

CHRISTINE + JILL

A hero who is teaching vital skills My Food Hero Is...
my friend, Jill

I can’t remember the last time I had a conversation with someone who didn’t feel like they were juggling 10 things at once, asking “How can I make my life easier?

How do we teach our kids the tools they need to make their lives easier as they grow up?

Jill Mortenson is doing just that.

She has been teaching Food and Family Studies to high school kids for 11 years. She is one of many teachers who are passionate about providing our youth with the tools needed to face the real world.  Jill taught me how to make butter, cheese and pickles. She taught me how to remove stains from almost anything. She almost taught me how to grow vegetables in my garden. Lets just say I do not have the green thumb she does. She also taught me how to be more “easy going” as a parent. 


The world of Home Ec., as I remember it, are long gone. Now it’s Family Studies. 

Under its umbrella there are a lot of courses offered to kids. Sometimes there are more Family Studies courses than a school has room for. 

Every high school today has a focus and its location primarily decides what it teaches. Think of a Toronto Arts high school. Programs are regimented and kids just don’t have the time to fit in a Family Studies course. 
Jill is a strong advocate for Family Studies. She feels lucky that she is part of a high school where it’s important AND they have the facilities to teach it. She is creative and inspiring and designs her classes around what her students want and need. You want to make Biryani? Jill will teach it. 

“These are hand-on, interactive programs that many kids gravitate to!” 

Her struggle? No mandatory Family Studies class. We may all be able to get by without sewing a button but one good hands-on Family Studies in Grade 9 or 10 should be mandatory. If a student likes some aspect of that course at an earlier age… then they take more as they advance.” 

“It would also be nice to have a courses run longer, get more in depth, so they can be taught with a focus on seasonality”.

We all know about the steady increase in child obesity, type 2 diabetes and health related issues. We hear it is due to an increase in poor lifestyle and bad eating habits, but it's often a side effect of poverty and the struggle many families face to put healthy food on the table. 

And it's part of the reason why it seems like 90% of high school students are searching for the cheapest fast food they can find at lunchtime. 

This is disheartening—and a reason why we all need to take action.

I am grateful we have teachers out there like Jill teaching our kids. 

Jill is not only a food hero but she is also one of my best friends. 

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