One young person who has been cooking with us for around three years now, M, attends regular sessions and has not only developed their skills in the kitchen, but now tries new ingredients every session. This increase in confidence to try new foods has made a big difference to M and their family. They now have a wider range of packed lunch options to take to school, they regularly ask us for new suggestions, and usually the first thing they decide when arriving for a session is which new ingredient they will be trying that day. We were recently reminiscing with M and their family about their very first session when trying anything new seemed so difficult to them. M now asks their parent to film video clips of them trying new ingredients and reports back what they think on their socials. It’s not always a ‘thumbs up’ to new things, but through lots of gentle encouragement M is no longer afraid to taste new things, and always gets a big ‘well done for trying!’ from us whether they like it or not.
In addition to trying new foods, M loves to get involved with sessions, not only preparing their own recipes, but demonstrating cooking and chopping techniques to the rest of the group, offering positive encouragement to new people and enjoys helping us setting up and clearing away after sessions. M often tells us how much they’d like to volunteer with us in a few years when they’re a little older.
From our point of view, we love to make the classes fun and informative, we ensure the whole family is involved, we try to include even the youngest members of the group by providing fruit and healthy snacks and encouraging the tasting of ingredients during the sessions. We talk throughout the sessions about healthy eating and small changes we can make to improve our health, we talk about cooking on an affordable budget, reducing waste and how to make the most of the ingredients they have at home.
We are constantly looking for ways to improve what we offer families who attend our sessions. This past year, thanks to HAF (Healthy Activities and Food, funded by the Department for Education)) provision we have been able to provide vouchers to group members to spend on Bradford Oastler Market on the fresh food stalls. This has enabled families to shop together and buy ingredients to either recreate something we have made in class, or make their favourite family meal at home. This summer we’ve taken lots of the families to the market after cooking sessions, we love to see their excitement when planning what to buy and showing us their big bags of shopping afterwards. The classes and vouchers we have been able to provide through the funding are just one part of what we do as a charity and we love that we can provide this for families, What one parent wrote to us makes what we do feel so worthwhile:
Thank you very much for the vouchers. We have been to the market and bought ingredients to make meals for next week. We have never been to that market before, we will be going again to try different fruit and veg that we have never used or even seen before we loved the shopping trips, it has given us lots of family discussions about what food and recipes we want to make and eat during the week. We are very grateful.Parent, September 2023
We will continue to keep our programme engaging and exciting with the help of our longstanding partnership with the team that is Jamie Oliver, they provide us with a vast selection of fantastic recipes to help keep our families interested and enthused about cooking. We will continue to support and encourage the young people who want to volunteer with us, it’s always amazing to watch how they have grown and continue to grow in confidence and help others.