GUEST BLOG This month we are delighted to be sponsoring Bags of Taste, a not-for-profit organization working to change the everyday diets of people who are either in, or who face food poverty.
Founded by Alicia Weston five years ago in East London (Alicia recently received a British Empire Medal for services to the community), Bags of Taste is coming to Margate for five weeks, giving adults free cookery lessons to help them shop, budget and cook for as little as £1 per portion and to move them away from being dependent on highly processed and takeaway foods.
Kent’s local Area Head for Bags of Taste, Annie Nichols told us a little about what visitors can expect from Bags of Taste when it arrives in Margate this month…
After I spent time volunteering for Bags of Taste in London, and Hastings (another rapidly regenerating seaside town), I knew very quickly that this fantastic programme would benefit people living in Thanet, so last September I brought Bags of Taste to Margate.
For each cookery lesson, I first demonstrate how to cook two delicious and healthy dishes. Everyone then cooks together, assisted by an incredible team of local volunteers, then sit down together and share a lunch of what they have cooked.
At the end of the session students can buy a bag, with all the ingredients needed to make four more meals for just £3, so they can practice cooking at home for their friends and family.
This is the critical element of the programme that leads to the long term change in people’s cooking and eating habits as students commit to continuous learning at home, friends and family enjoy the food and ask them to cook again, students grow in confidence and they’re reassured that it’s worth buying a few, new, unfamiliar ingredients.
I source all the ingredients for the classes and the bags, locally in Margate, hunting out the best deals from Aldi, Morrisons and Tesco, to independent shops like Thanet Quality Foods, Days Supermarket, International Foods or Nasza Biedronka on Northdown Road. This ensures that students can also buy the ingredients for the recipes as cheaply as possible, without needing to travel far.
It's a simple, but brilliant programme, which has had amazing outcomes for many, many people. Not only for those struggling with food costs, and/or eat unhealthily, but for those who may also live in isolation, due to many factors including old age, mental health issues and addictions.
I must also add, the lessons are a huge amount of fun with lots of giggles and new friends made!
The next course starts at Millmead Sure Start Centre on Tuesday morning 15th January (11am-1.30pm), and will also run on 22nd, 29th January and 5th February.
You do not need to attend every morning of the course, but people do gain more from the lessons, the more they do attend.