In 2016 the Jack Petchey Foundation celebrated its 15th Anniversary by awarding 15 grants of up to £15,000 to 15 youth organizations and projects. One of the grants was awarded to The Kid’s Cookery School, a London based charity which teaches children and young people the skills and knowledge needed to make healthy food choices through cookery classes. Obesity has become a significant health concern in the UK; “The British Medical Association predicts that by 2020 over 30% of children aged 2-15 will be clinically obese” and that “treating obesity and related illnesses cost taxpayers £3billion per year.” By equipping young people with the skills and knowledge to make nutritious meals from scratch, The Kid’s Cookery School (KCS) empowers young people to create a healthier future for themselves. KCS is based in Acton but also has a mobile cooking facility which allows them to visit various locations and reach more young people in London.
The charity used the grant to fund Pop-Up cookery classes in five community centres across five boroughs. KCS have found that delivering training on a young person’s own ‘turf’ encourages much more cooperation and enthusiasm from them. During the project, KCS visited each centre once a week for three weeks. At each centre they would run a morning and afternoon class, teaching up to 16 young people per session. Often, the young people returned to the sessions each week which allowed them to build up their interest and skills.
The classes took place in five different youth centres in Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow. They groups were taught to cook a variety of dishes such as a pasta bake made from scratch, stuffed jacket potatoes, fruit muffins and hot cross buns. Whilst the students were cooking, the staff spoke to them about how to live a healthy lifestyle, which would allow them to make informed decisions on their own diet. The classes were a success, with the young people enthusiastically getting involved in both the cooking and discussions about healthy food. Some of the young people had never cooked at home before but were inspired to take their new skills with them into their own kitchen. After each class the young people took their dishes home with them to share with friends and family, as well as the recipes so they could make them again at home.KCS were pleased with the project’s success saying “We found that feedback to project has been very positive and we continue to get calls from youth centres asking when we will do more sessions with their young people… These sessions has proven that there is a real need, want and desire to learn this vital life skill. KCS very often find that young people don’t fully understand that living on junk food and fast food is having a serious impact on their well-being and health.”
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