We know food is much more than the building blocks for survival. Good food is fundamental to our sense of belonging within our culture, community and the world.
History has shown that during times of war and conflict, food can become an obsession as the population deal with rationing, hunger and starvation. Talking about food becomes a safe space and gives a community a sense of structure when everything else might be going wrong with their lives. I was reminded of this on a recent visit to New Zealand; the devastating earthquakes which decimated Christchurch, South Island and where community food projects became a way for people to heal and recover.
In the UK, many families are struggling with food insecurity; rising daily living costs are driving people to turn to charities and food banks to ensure they have a decent meal each day. Use of food banks has risen rapidly particularly in areas of high unemployment and where there are the most vulnerable groups in society. Healthy nutritional intake is hampered by such health inequalities, where there is insufficient money to buy food, lack of access to food shops and lack of cooking equipment and skills to prepare meals.
Through my community dietetic experience and working to help implement the Trussell Trust “Eat Well Spend Less” course, the benefits for groups of people coming together to learn and improve their cooking skills in a friendly, safe environment is plain to see. Cooking is not just cooking! It is shopping, meal planning, budgeting. Cooking sessions create so many benefits:
Community cooking sessions bring people with different needs together to share tasty and healthy meals within a convivial and uplifting setting – that is something inspiring!