City Year UK sets up healthy cooking club in Birmingham school

City Year UK volunteers at Marlborough Junior School in Birmingham have started up a healthy cooking club.

Cooking club 4Noticing that many pupils lacked awareness of what constitutes a healthy diet and were bringing in unhealthy food to school, the pro-active City Year team applied to the Starbucks Youth Fund for funding. They won a £1,000 a grant, which was spent on a portable oven, pots and pans, cutlery, aprons and ingredients.

The cooking club is run after school twice a week in five week blocks, with approximately 15 pupils attending each session. The children learn basic kitchen safety and knife skills and how to cook healthy starters, main courses and desserts, before completing their own recipe book to take home with them at the end of the course. The recipe books also include information about balanced diets, food groups and food hygiene, and the recipes themselves are simple, cheap and approved by nutritionists. The team even ran a session on parents evening, where the parents were invited to join in the fun with their children.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from pupils and parents alike, as well as from a Foodnet nutritionist who observed an early session.

Amber Barnard, who was involved in starting up the club, says:

Cooking club (1)“We hope that as the children take the recipes home, they will be able to influence what kinds of food they eat at home, and hopefully this will make a real difference in the community.

“We have made things like mango and avocado salsa, vegetable Balti, healthy chicken nuggets, hummus, banana loaf, fruit salads and pancakes.  One child had never tried blueberries, kiwis, melons or pears before and was delighted when she got to take a kiwi home with her!”

Pre and post evaluation research indicates that pupils have improved their knowledge of healthy food and their understanding of how to use kitchen equipment and are much more likely to experiment with different kinds of food after completing the 5 week course.

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