Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm, Leeds, has run a successful cooking school initiative for Yorkshire families. The project was led by their chef, Will Ascroft, who wanted to do more to support vulnerable families and has led previous charitable cooking classes.
Will wanted to spread his passion for cooking to young people and their families, by teaching some new skills and showing them how simple and tasty healthy home cooking can be. The charity began with five cooking days, each on a Friday.
Groups of up to 12 young people and their parents and carers were invited to a session to learn how to make fresh, nutritious meals. The meals were made with inexpensive ingredients, using little energy to cook, and can be prepared quickly, without fuss.
Will said: “Our classes focus on providing these young people and their carers with the skills to feed themselves and their families for as little as £2 a meal. Healthy food doesn’t just nourish our bodies, it also plays a major part in the life of families and communities; food brings families together and gives our communities common ground to flourish.”
With the cost-of-living crisis worsening, more and more families will struggle to provide nutritious meals on a budget this winter. Knowing how to prepare a few affordable and healthy meals from scratch will make a different for some families.
Will located the kitchen, designed a suitable menu, and the charity secured funding to run the classes. They were able to use the fantastic kitchen ‘Get Cooking’ in Farsley, who helped them keep the costs down.
The initiative was supported by the Sir George Martin Trust, a foundation that has previously supported the work of Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm. After each session, the families were given a set of menu cards and ingredient bundles to recreate the recipes at home, plus a set of new pots, pans and cooking utensils. The Asda Foundation and John Lewis Give a Little Love Foundation helped provide the cooking equipment.
“Supporting people and helping them to feed themselves and their families with the budgets they have, will, we hope, greatly improve their health. Our dishes are all made with fresh, unprocessed ingredients at a fair price, and we aim to dispel the myth that fresh food is more expensive and less accessible. Furthermore, we aim for each person to leave our kitchen with newfound skills and an interest in healthier family meals, with the ability and equipment to make this possible.”
The families who attended were referred through the charity’s partners, including local schools and Leeds City Council’s MST (multisystemic therapy) service. The aim is to support the most in need families, and Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm hope to continue this initiative, with plans to hold more cooking sessions in the New Year.
Jayne Harris is a Family Therapist at MST Leeds. Jayne said:
“The cooking course was fabulous, and the families really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for this opportunity for our families. These are fundamental experiences that we’re so thankful to be able to offer to many families in need”.
Comments from the children included:
“I learned chopping onions; making flapjack; and being able to cook pasta, like Will does.”
“My favourite was the flapjack we made, then the pizza, then the pasta.”
“What a great day, thank you”
Jenny Jones, Fundraising Manager for Leeds Children’s Charity at Lineham Farm said:
“With the addition of our new cooking classes, we have been able to support and work with very vulnerable children and families in new ways to our existing offering at the farm. This further supports our work with helping to brighten the lives of children and helping to establish solid and happy childhood foundations with the hope of breaking the cycle of poverty and challenge, so children can have a fairer platform to integrate into communities and successful adulthood.”