Holland College has received $120,000 from the College and Community Social Innovation Fund for the research and development of make-at-home meal kits for people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities.

Boxing Up the Basics is a collaborative social innovation project between Holland College’s Canada’s Smartest Kitchen and department of Applied ResearchTremploy Inc., a non-profit community-based organization focused on vocational training and providing support services to adults with intellectual disabilities and the Prince Edward Island Association for Community Living (PEIACL), an advocacy group for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. Holland College researcher Dr. Greg McKenna will oversee the project.

Boxing Up the Basics builds on a successful initiative completed in 2019. In September of that year, the partners released a series of videos developed for people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities called Let’s Get Cooking. The videos featured a chef from Canada’s Smartest Kitchen with Tremploy clients and demonstrated how to prepare simple, low-cost, healthy dishes.

Using the resources of Canada’s Smartest Kitchen again, the partners will develop a series of high-quality, nutritious recipes to be packaged in make-at-home meal kits. The meals will be developed specifically to meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities, and participants in the project will be supported by existing community services and resources as they learn new food preparation skills.

“Holland College is delighted to be able to work with Tremploy and PEIACL again on this project and to continue to develop ways to provide the tools people with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities need to live independently,” Dr. McKenna said.

“The PEI Association for Community Living is thrilled to be partnering once again with Holland College, Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, and Tremploy Inc. for the Boxing Up the Basics project,” said Julie Smith, executive director of PEIACL. “Enhancing access and awareness to healthy meal preparation will benefit the overall health and independent living skills of individuals with intellectual disabilities.”

Joel Dennis, executive director of Tremploy Inc., agreed.

“We are excited to collaborate again with Dr. McKenna and his team at Holland College and Canada’s Smartest Kitchen, as well as with PEIACL. Including individuals at all stages increases the relevance and utility of the project,” he said.

The results of this collaboration will ideally lead to greater independence, healthier living, and possible new employment pathways.

The College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program is managed by NSERC in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), which make up the Tri-Council.


(L-R) Julie Smith, Executive Director, Prince Edward Island Association for Community Living; Joel Dennis, Executive Director, Tremploy Inc.; Chef Jennifer Bryant, Food Product Developer, Canada’s Smartest Kitchen; Dr. Greg McKenna, Lead Researcher, Applied Research Department, Holland College; Chef Krista MacQuarrie, Food Product Developer, Canada’s Smartest Kitchen at a recent planning session for Boxing Up the Basics.