Cook and Share to tackle loneliness this World Food Day
A brand new campaign from the Soil Association aims to tackle food insecurity and loneliness, starting this World Food Day on 16th October.
Anyone can take part in Cook and Share Month and hundreds of events are expected to take place across the UK. From Headingley to Edinburgh, people will be cooking and, you guessed it, sharing food in their local communities between 16th October and 16th November 2021.
Preparing and eating food is a great way to bring down barriers, so the organisers are encouraging people from all walks of life to take part. Community groups, schools, children’s centres, faith groups and more will be getting busy in the kitchen and making food to share with each other, and with their local area, both remotely and in person where it’s safe to do so.
Need funding? Grants of £150 are available to help people get their cooking events off the ground, provided by Food for Life Get Togethers (FFLGT), a Soil Association programme funded by the National Lottery. More details are below.
So why should we share our food?
Research has revealed that the more often people eat with others the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.1 Yet this year we have seen loneliness rise, exacerbating social problems that were already there.
The Office of National Statistics has published a report saying that loneliness in adults has increased during the pandemic by almost a third. From October 2020 to February 2021, results from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) showed that 7.2% of the adult population (about 3.7 million adults) felt lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’.2 This is an increase of 1.1 million people since the first UK lockdown in 2020.
Many people have become more isolated as a result of social distancing measures, which can have negative effects on mental and physical wellbeing. Holding a Food for Life ‘Get Together’ is a tried and tested way for people to connect with others in their local communities, through good food, safely.
In a recent survey of Get Together organisers, nearly 90% either agreed or strongly agreed that their activities created new friendships or developed friendships. More than 90% of Get Together organisers also agreed or strongly agreed that these activities supported people’s health and wellbeing.
Helen Browning, CEO of the Soil Association says:
“The month is about using the power of great food to bring us together. At the Soil Association, we know that food has got to be good for us, and good for nature and the climate too.
“It has never been more important to create meaningful connections. We have seen over the past year that feeling connected to others is absolutely essential to good health and wellbeing. Food is one of our best ways to unite across barriers – whether that’s the garden fence, cultural or generational divides.
“We are quite disconnected at the moment in the UK, but we can do something about that. We can get cooking, and get sharing!”
How can people take part?
Anyone can sign up for free on the website. There are a range of resources available, helping organisers to cook easy, healthy recipes from scratch. Choose your favourite, from an Eritrean Daal to a simple, home-made bread roll.
An important part of Cook and Share month is helping people to cook from scratch, which has health benefits and often has a lower carbon footprint than alternative ultra-processed foods. For more information, read the Soil Association Report on Ultra-processed Foods.
After a year of isolation and worry, it is more important than ever that we connect with the people around us. Whether you’re dishing up daal, sharing a sarnie or passing round the pasta, food is a great way to break down barriers and bring people together.