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Barilla and Covenant House team-up to nourish at-risk youth during the pandemic

Family-owned Italian food company and Canada’s largest agency serving at-risk youth grow partnership

Many of Canada’s homeless and trafficked youth do not have access to healthy meals, something the pandemic has only exacerbated. It’s why Barilla Canada is expanding on their long-standing partnership with Covenant House, providing a product and cash donation equaling $18,000 [$3,000 worth of pasta and $15,000 for the purchase of fresh ingredients] in an effort to support youth experiencing homelessness and survivors of sex trafficking. 

With the pandemic heightening the challenges vulnerable youth are experiencing, the organization has been operating 24/7 to meet the needs of the more than 300 youth per day. Many of the youth they serve are faced with additional hurdles brought on by the pandemic, like isolation and increased mental health struggles, but are also entering Covenant House with limited knowledge of cooking, healthy foods, or the resources to access nutritious meals. To help fill this gap, Barilla is supporting Cooking For Life—an interactive hands-on training program that teaches cooking skills needed to work in hospitality and the principles of a healthy diet, in addition to providing a $18,000 donation.


“At Barilla, we believe in bringing the world high quality food that is joyful, healthy and inspired by our Italian roots, which is why we are so excited to be expanding this partnership with Covenant House during Mediterranean Diet Month (May). The Cooking For Life program goes beyond supporting youth with pre-employment training. It’s also the perfect opportunity to educate youth on how to follow a healthy lifestyle, and to show them the joys that cooking can bring, whether it’s for themselves or someone they love,” says Gino Rulli, Vice President and General Manager of Barilla Canada.

Barilla will also be recording virtual cooking classes throughout the month of May to provide Covenant House with teaching material the youth can access in their virtual classes under the supervision of their Chef Instructor. Classes will feature Barilla partner chefs and influencers, teaching youth the basics of the Mediterranean Diet, healthy eating, food trends, and food styling:

  • Barilla Executive Chef Lorenzo Boni (@cheflorenzoboni) will be teaching the principles of pasta and the Mediterranean Diet to make linguine with cannellini beans, zucchini and cherry tomatoes.
  • Registered Dietician and TV spokesperson Nicole Osinga (@nicoleosinga_rd) will provide healthy eating tips and how to incorporate nutritious ingredients while making budget-friendly Mediterranean spaghetti.
  • Famous TikTok star and Instagram foodie Jamie Milne (@everything_delish) will demonstrate how to recreate the well-known baked feta pasta trend with a twist.
  • Food photographer and stylist Ify Yani (@ify.yani) will give styling tips to make pasta salad look like restaurant-quality.

“We are beyond thankful that Barilla has extended our partnership further to help us access healthy food and educational content for our program,” says Danny Moon, Chef Instructor at Covenant House. “It’s been a difficult year, and we know that the simple act of cooking and eating a nourishing meal has so many emotional and health benefits. Even though our Cooking For Life program may not be able to bring together our members in the same way it always does, due to the pandemic, we are hopeful that the virtual cooking classes and meals served by Barilla will help us continue to bridge that gap and lay the foundation for creating healthy lifelong habits for youth in need.”  

If you want to make a donation to Covenant House, please visit here

Pasta salad by Barilla Canada

By: Ify Yani, @ify.yani

Click here for the full recipe. 

Mediterranean Spaghetti by Barilla Canada

By: Nicole Osinga, @nicoleosinga_rd

Click here for the full recipe.

Linguine with cannellini beans, zucchini and cherry tomatoes

By: Chef Lorenzo Boni, @cheflorenzoboni

Click here for the full recipe.

Pesto Baked Feta Pasta

By: Jamie Milne, @everything_delish

Click here for the full recipe.