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Cooking skills blog 20: Are cooking skills courses any use to people experiencing food poverty?

Many practitioners running cooking courses across Scotland try to ensure these focus on preparing tasty, affordable healthy meals, using ingredients that can be bought in the shops that course participants already use. However, what do you do if you become aware that someone on your course might not be able to afford these budget recipes, or are struggling to feed themselves or their families?

Improving cooking and budgeting skills are seen by some people as part of a combination of activities that could help prevent food poverty/ food insecurity. Whereas others feel that other issues, such as not being able to afford fuel, ingredients and transport to the shops are more important. (see the Douglas 2015 report for both views).

Whatever your views, what do you do to try and be helpful if, or when someone on your cooking course seems to be experiencing food poverty or food insecurity? And, whilst trying to help, what (if any) compromises are being made? (e.g. to a participant’s dignity by having to limit food choice and admit the problem to you; or to promoting nutrition messages such as 5 a day or eating oily fish.)

We have recently recruited a PhD student who has just begun a three-month internship with us. Katy Gordon hopes to find out –What methods do cooking course trainers use to support people experiencing food poverty? Katy will shortly be putting out an online survey to find out views, tips and ideas from practitioners. If you would like to take part, please email Katy or look out for the survey on our website.

For now, we might not be able to conclude whether cooking courses are of any use (or to what extent they are useful) for people experiencing food poverty. But, hopefully we will at least find out a little more about how often practitioners deal with this issue and what they try and do about it.



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