Celebrity chef Dennis Prescott (from Netflix’s Restaurants on the Edge) recently travelled to Cambodia, where a chicken farms are transforming the future for vulnerable children and families. Through World Vision Canada’s gift catalogue, donors can gift hens and roosters to those in need. Dennis was able to experience firsthand how this provides families in Cambodia with daily access to protein-rich food and a source of income, these gifts are supporting families to break the cycle of poverty as they invest in their future and their children’s education. We chatted with him to learn more. —Noa Nichol
You recently travelled to Cambodia, where chicken farms are transforming the future for vulnerable children and families. Can you tell us how, and what you observed/learned first-hand?
Yes, I spent an exciting week in Cambodia meeting people who received chickens donated through World Vision Canada. A grandmother name Cheng Pok told me about how she rebuilt her life after losing her husband by generating an income through chicken and rice farming. She’s now a leader in her community and runs the local chicken co-operative. In Phnom Penh, I spoke with a World Vision-sponsored child named Sakhana who dreams of being a doctor. Her whole family has benefitted from the extra income her mother made by selling chicks. A young mother named Samphors told me she can now feed her family more nutritious meals using the eggs from her new chickens and vegetables from her garden. Overall, what struck me most was how the simple gift of chickens can give children the ability to thrive.
What are some of the struggles being faced by the families in these underprivileged communities?
Here in Canada, chickens and eggs are items many can afford to buy regularly. But that’s not an option for many families in these underprivileged regions. Basic things like healthcare, safety, food and clean water are scarce.
Since then, you’ve partnered with World Vision Canada to ensure families in those communities receive support. How can purchasing items through World Vision Canada’s gift catalogue help, in terms of helping to improve their access to healthy (and delicious) food and creating more opportunities to experience joyful moments spent at the table together?
Through World Vision Canada’s gift catalogue, donors can gift hens and roosters to those in need. We were able to provide families in Cambodia with daily access to protein-rich food and a source of income; these gifts are supporting families to break the cycle of poverty as they invest in their future and their children’s education. In collaboration with the World Food Programme, the Canadian government and corporate partners, all of the food gifts in this year’s gift catalogue are matched or multiplied by up to nine times, when combined with contributions from these organizations to help tackle hunger and poverty.
For you, what does sharing a meal with loved ones mean, during the holidays and beyond?
For me, food is community. Food brings people together, regardless of what language you speak or where you come from. As a chef, it’s my job as a food provider to ensure that everyone has access to that kind of moment at the table.
What is your favourite gift to give from the World Vision Canada catalogue this season?
Giving from the World Vision Catalogue around the Giving and Holiday season is such a meaningful way to help those in need. And choosing gifts that have a multiplier effect can unlock other sources of funds to reach even more people.