Did you spot them? Our Facebook page and Twitter feed have been fit to burst with lovely photos from children learning to cook with us as part of the Tesco Eat Happy Project over the Easter holidays. And their big grins got me thinking about how wonderful it is that our cooking clubs seem to mean so much more to people than simply a way to pick up new skills.
Our club network is using cooking to bring people together, reflecting the very best of human nature. Our team heaves equipment around to cook anywhere, from village halls to factory staffrooms. They drive through floods and snowdrifts to make sure they don’t let clubs down. The volunteers we train shop for ingredients, wash tea towels and in some cases tell us they even drive children home from clubs – above and beyond their normal day’s work.
Whether it’s about building relationships with those they love most or getting up the confidence to do something they’ve previously shied away from, we hear so many moving tales of how a humble cooking club really can change lives.
Jill, who runs one of our clubs, told us some of her members wouldn’t even have held eye contact before starting to cook. Now, she says, “they’re presenting and demonstrating very confidently about the food they’re cooking.”
Lucas, who comes to one of our clubs with his dad, tells us: “We’re much closer since joining the club.”
This volunteer told us about a young lad with ADHD at their club. “Each child made their own sausage roll. At the end of the session, he was called up to collect his; he looked confused. He asked me what I was giving to him. I recalled with him how he had rolled out pastry, and painted the edges with milk. He had then added his sausage meat and rolled it up. He remembered all of this. I then went on to recall how we had put the sausage rolls on a tray, and then we had cut the top with a knife, and painted them with milk again. He said that he did remember doing this. I then said that we had put them into the oven and they had baked, and that this was what it looked like once it had been baked. He again stared at the sausage roll, his eyes wide. It then seemed to connect with him what I was saying and a huge grin came across his face. “Did I really make that?” he asked me, and when I said that he had, he asked, “Can I eat it?”. He went bounding up to his mum with the biggest smile and shouted “Mum! I made that!” holding out his sausage roll like it was a trophy. “And Mum, I can eat it!”
Call me a big softie but there’s something about children enjoying being part of a group, enjoying food together regardless of their ability or background that really warms my heart. And, if we inspire a budding young chef by equipping them with the skills and confidence they need to get hands-on in the kitchen along the way, that’s the icing on the cake.
Let’s Get Cooking with The Tesco Eat Happy Project is giving schools the chance to be part of our vibrant and established network of clubs teaching children essential cooking skills. Our clubs are inspiring and empowering a generation of children by giving them the skills and knowledge to make healthier food choices throughout their lives.