Food enterprise provides meals and cooking lessons for Dagenham families

Growing Communities trainer Hannah Schlotter with a healthy meal prepared during an online cooking workshop.

Growing Communities trainer Hannah Schlotter with a healthy meal prepared during an online cooking workshop. - Credit: Growing Communities

A sustainable food community organisation is delivering lockdown meals to Dagenham families and helping them learn new cooking skills.

Social enterprise Growing Communities has been providing healthy ready meals, meal kits and online cooking sessions to families and individuals in the area surrounding its Dagenham farm, next to Central Park, during the pandemic.

The FoodNet project is working with William Bellamy Children’s Centre, which has experienced a 37.5 per cent increase in demand for food since lockdown began and is receiving referrals from food banks, social services and the council.

Hannah Schlotter from Growing Communities delivering an online cooking workshops.

Hannah Schlotter delivering one of the online cooking workshops. - Credit: Growing Communities

Growing Communities’ FoodNet project lead Kerry Rankine said: “By working in partnership with William Bellamy Children's Centre we are able to reach people who are under pressure both financially and from the absence of our usual social contacts at this difficult time.

“Through FoodNet we can supply delicious healthy meals to families and help everyone taking part to try out their cooking skills with others in relaxed and fun online sessions.  

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“We’ve had some great feedback from residents taking part who have really enjoyed the cooking sessions and learning new skills.”  

People in the area, referred by the William Bellamy centre in Frizlands Lane, receive weekly meals as well as the recipe and a food pack of ingredients they need to recreate the meals from scratch.

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They can then tune into the live-streamed online classes and cook along with an experienced trainer.

Growing Communities cooks and trainers Shelagh Martin and Hannah Schlotter design the recipes, prepare the meals and run the online cooking sessions.

All meals are designed to be easy to cook with just a microwave and a kettle.

Growing Communities runs an organic farm in Dagenham off Rainham Road North as well as a wholesale organic vegetable warehouse in Thames Road, Barking, which has allowed the organisation to supply local, seasonal and organic food for the meals.

Meal ingredients and food boxes are packed and delivered by Paul Kirby from the Barking warehouse, known as the Better Food Shed.

The FoodNet programme, which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, runs until the end of this month.

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