Thursday, 8 May 2014

Volunteers cook and learn!

Clockwise from left: Monisha, Ingrid, Sophie, Eric, Annie, Oliver, Nicola and Catherine

The Copleston Centre is a church in Peckham that normally hosts our Fit Foodie, Creative Therapies and Family Cooking sessions, but today was just for Mini Cooking Club staff and volunteers.

This week's team meeting saw a big collection of our volunteers coming together for a healthy eating lesson, kitchen hygiene and safety reminder, and finally eating a home-cooked meal.

We made sure we were all up to speed on kitchen safety and hygiene essentials like always washing hands before handling food, and never running with knives. But you all knew that!  We covered the Eat Well plate, essentially a nutritional guide for eating a balanced diet, which must include carbohydrates, protein, some fat and lots of fruits and vegetables (big surprise!).

Cecilia Belier, the Mini Cooking Club founder, cooked everyone delicious mandarin pasta (mixed with rocket, green beans, and seasoned with olive oil and Parmesan). This was followed by freshly sliced pineapple, which was bursting with flavour due to the fact that it is now in season.

Led by Cecilia, this meeting shows just how complex the charity has grown. From a small organisation consisting solely of Cecilia and two others, the staff and volunteers included people from the cooking, fundraising and media sides of the charity.

Cecilia reminded us of why the Mini Cooking Club is all about food. In previous roles working in the public health sector, she experienced a lot focus on nutrition and not nearly enough on cooking. Cecilia started the charity with the aim of teaching children and adults the joy of cooking, and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Near the end of the meeting, discussions moved a little sideways onto the Great British Allotment Challenge and the importance of 'digging for Britain' during the war. We talked about the sustainability of food, and whether any of us would reduce our meat and dairy consumption to cut emissions from farming.

We wondered if it was even necessary to eat meat at all, given the unethical treatment of livestock and poultry, and thought widespread community growing initiatives were probably the way forward.

There was a real sense of community and shared spirit that arose from the evening, and the conclusion of our debate was, quite simply, 'everything in moderation'. Thank you to Annie, Oliver, Monisha, Ingrid, Nicola, Eric and Sophie for coming, and thank you Cecilia for teaching and cooking - what a great evening.

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