Cook and Share Month opens doors and hearts in Rochdale!
Earlier this month we caught up with Linda who is a graduate of the Food for Life My Food Community leadership development programme. Linda works in the Community Investment team at Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH), which is the UK’s first tenant and employee co-owned mutual housing society, with over 12,000 homes throughout the local area.
She is using the Cook and Share campaign to reach people that RBH support, who perhaps wouldn’t ask for help with food, cookery skills or nutrition. By using the different weekly themes of the campaign Linda aims to raise awareness of a new community fridge that will launch after Cook and Share Month.
RBH already has a community pantry, which is £4 for ten items worth about £15, but the fridge will be free to access and stocked with redistributed food from local suppliers. There will even be freshly prepared meals through working with local agencies such as Circle’s Dinner Drivers and The Strand Community Café to package up leftovers or make a few extra meals to go into the fridge.
Knowing that she needed to spread the news about the new offer Linda saw the Cook and Share campaign as the perfect way to engage people. “I liked the way there was a theme each week as it has helped me create a campaign to raise awareness of our new community fridge which launches in November. As winter takes hold RBH wanted to make sure anyone who needs food has access to it, but at the same time show that our pantry, café and centre is a friendly place to come – the Cook and Share campaign has helped us do that.”
Last week Linda was up early baking batches of dough that would rival any contestant in the Great British Bake off, as she prepared dozens of pinwheels. Adapting the recipe to what they had at the pantry, Linda swapped the fresh garlic and herbs for a dried variety that had been donated by a local business.
The handy Seeds and Spices resource can help inspire anyone to swap out something in a recipe for something available, just like Linda did. The tasty treats were left out for people to try, with the recipes, additional cook and share resources along with literature about RBH.
For the next themed week, Linda is creating the Bombay Style Chickpeas as it is Diwali. “We always have tins of chickpeas in the pantry and some of our community struggle to know how to cook with them. I am also really looking forward to showing people a slightly healthier snack to have in lunchboxes or for a movie night.”
The RBH Cook and Share events take place every Thursday across the month of the campaign, they have really taken to the theme weeks, using a different resource from the campaign toolkit each week.
Not only is Linda working hard to support people in Rochdale with good food through her work with RBH she recently started working with Rochdale Borough Council which was prompted by her work with the Food for Life My Food Community programme. Linda completed the My Food Community training in 2022 and she had, as she freely admits, an ambitious dream to develop a food partnership in Rochdale. She took the idea – created as part of her training – to the Council and to her surprise and delight they said yes!
“My Food Community was the next step I needed in my career, as a trained Dietitian with a special interest in public health I could see through my work at RBH that Rochdale would benefit from a Food Partnership.
The My Food Community training gave me the confidence to approach Rochdale Council, having spotted the gap and seen the potential a food partnership could have in the area.
To my delight they said yes, and I am thrilled to be putting my MFC training into action, the programme gave me the confidence to go for it.”
We wish Linda and the RBH team all the best with the new community Fridge and are delighted to see how she has adopted Cook and Share theme weeks to help support the Rochdale community this winter.