Starting them young with Cook and Share Month
Lindsay White is a busy mum, shop owner and she also runs a small charity Community Supporters, based in Bexhill working alongside Liz and Emma. Their mission is to work with their community to support and enhance their local environment.
At its heart, the charity wants to improve the local environment, through litter picks and community gardens, focus attention on biodiversity through projects like their young pollinators scheme, and tackle surplus food and food poverty.
The CIC has a bustling calendar of events, from Knit & Natter to fixing fashion sessions to get more use out of existing wardrobes.
As part of the Soil Association’s Cook and Share Month, the team at Community Supporters have created a children’s cookery workshop. As lockdowns relaxed, local toddler groups, church groups and playgroups have struggled to enrol families to baby and toddler sessions, so Lindsay and Liz wanted to create an interactive toddler session around food to see if she could engage new parents to come along.
“Food is a great way of getting people together and Cook and Share month gave us a great way to get to know more of our community. It says what it is so perfectly too!” She continued: “I realised that there wasn’t an interactive food session for under fives in my area and I know how vital those early experiences, tastes and knowledge of good food is.”
Taking place in the local youth centre the first two-hour session was an overwhelming success, they ran out of chairs!
Everyone who attended was given a cookery pack of; a chopping board, child safe scissors, a knife, an apron and recipes to take home, with the idea that, as Lindsay said: “trying and repeating is really important to develop taste buds and by giving the kits we hope we are encouraging the parent who attends, to take things home and share with the whole family.”
Over a few weeks the sessions will teach basic skills such as spreading, chopping and importantly, tasting. This week the group did no-cook cinnamon rolls and a fruit cocktail drink, all sourced from food waste charity, Fare Share, to use up food surplus which is a key aim of Community Supporters. “I don’t think the parents even got a look in on the tasting bit at the end, laughs Lindsay. “The kids were devouring what they made, which was great to see.”
One parent said: “Over the last few weeks we have been attending children's no-bake cooking classes. I have been amazed by how my child’s relationship towards food is positively changing. He has a very restricted diet, eating only a limited range of foods due to sensory difficulties and the need for sameness. During the classes he is now wanting to touch and taste some new foods, this is then continuing at home which is amazing. A big thank you to Lindsay and Community Supporters.”
“Everything we will share together will be affordable, seasonal and easy to make, it will be no or very low cooking too. I get to share skills and support new mums who might be feeling overwhelmed as the undercurrent of cost-of-living bubbles up.”
Lindsay came across Cook and Share Month as she was a My Food Community member in 2021. Run by the Soil Association’s Food for Life Get Togethers’ programme, My Food Community is all about ‘championing good food’ in the community, food that’s good for climate, nature and health. “I really value what Get Togethers does, providing resources and a platform for community groups, Cook and Share is great and I saw last year how it can be used and felt it could be a great way to get our toddler cooking session off the ground.”
“I definitely use food as a way of getting people together more because of My Food Community, we all shared ideas, shared what works and we can learn what would work in our own area and build on ideas that have been proven, not start from scratch. I used some of my MFC funding to purchase all the cookery packs for my Cook and Share participants.”
I also used some of the funding to create a community recipe book which is coming into its own now! It was all about using gluts from the garden or food that might be surplus and gives ideas on low energy cooking. I created it to have less impact on the environment with food waste and reducing carbon but now it is coming into its own as we all try and save money and live sustainably.”
The sessions will run until Christmas, with a celebration event planned at the end, and Lindsay and Liz are hopeful that they will be able to continue in 2023 as they feel there is a way of supporting families and also addressing climate issues. Where better to start than the next generation?