Junior Chefs Program

A Local Program Blossoms into a multi-national initiative

The Junior League of Calgary

Name of Initiative:  Junior Chefs

Issue Area(s): KITK, Health & Nutrition, Child Welfare, Hunger, Childhood Obesity

Metric of Success (if quantifiable/available): Now known as Kids in the Kitchen, the program currently operates in more than 200 Leagues in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the U.K.


Junior Chefs was created by The Junior League of Calgary in 2001 in response to the startling statistics of child hunger and obesity in Calgary. The program assisted at-risk children in developing long-term nutritional knowledge, food preparation and kitchen safety skills.

Community partners

  • Canada Safeway Foundation, The Calgary Foundation and other community donors.
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary
  • Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District

How it works

Junior Chefs operated in elementary schools throughout Calgary as well as through other community partners. In 2008, it was turned over to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary following the development and launch in 2006 of The Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen initiative, or KITK, which used Junior Chefs as a template. 

Building on the experience of Junior Chefs, the goal of the Kids in the Kitchen initiative is to empower kids to make healthy lifestyle choices and help reverse the growth of childhood obesity and its associated health issues. The program, which involves children directly in nutritional issues and food preparation, is now in place in more than 200 Leagues in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the U.K.

What’s the impact?

One of the earliest anti-child-obesity programs, the simplicity and hands-on nature of the Junior Chefs program made it an obvious model for the KITK program. But Junior Chefs was also the recipient of awards and recognitions, including the Calgary Board of Education’s Lighthouse Award for 2006 and the Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation’s Mayors' Excellence Award in the Health and Wellness Category for 2006. Junior Chefs was also a nominee for the Canadian Medical Association’s Award for Excellence in Health Promotion in 2005 and 2006.