Today’s guest blog comes from Jo Ingleby, Director of The Children’s Kitchen
The Covid-19 pandemic has created many new challenges for our community and has worsened pre-existing issues of poverty and inequality in Bristol. Food insecurity is one of the greatest of these issues, and we have seen rising numbers of people accessing foodbanks and Food On Our Doorstep (FOOD) Clubs across the city. The Children’s Kitchen is a Feeding Bristol project which focuses on encouraging children to explore, cook, grow and eat fresh food. We work collaboratively with partners 91ways, Square Food Foundation, Travelling Kitchen and Incredible Edible Bristol to bring food education into communities where families are experiencing food insecurity. We are linked to the Bristol FOOD Clubs held in Community and Early Years settings – run by Family Action with food supplied by FareShare South West. During lockdown this grew from five clubs to 14, providing affordable food to families every week in areas including Hartcliffe, St Pauls, Southmead, Knowle West and Barton Hill.
Pre-lockdown The Children’s Kitchen was working in Nursery Schools and FOOD Club settings to encourage children aged 2 to 4 to explore fresh produce and grow it on-site. Since lockdown we have adapted to the new challenges. During lockdown we produced a collection of simple, affordable and healthy recipes which have recently been translated into 16 languages as video subtitles and printable PDF files, which has been done pro bono by Lionbridge. We aim to celebrate diversity and break down the barriers that prevent people accessing resources. Alongside these recipes are cookery videos made with Bristol community cooks and their children, cooking the dishes they make at home together. These multicultural recipes have been printed as a booklet given to 750 families over the summer, along with spices, oil and other ingredients. For the Healthy Holidays programme, we took these recipes ‘on the road’, hosting over 40 Family Food Sessions across Bristol in outdoor community spaces with community cooks.
Food insecurity is rising in the city and nationwide and is going to worsen as the impacts of Covid-19, and the coming winter, grow. Initiatives like FOOD Clubs and Feeding Bristol give people access to food, and not just for a few weeks but for long-term, sustainable support. Facing the challenges of an uncertain future, we need to work collaboratively, in a focused and citywide way to tackle poverty and food insecurity.
You can help by volunteering time, money or fresh produce and raising awareness of existing work in the city. Visit the Feeding Bristol website to see how to get involved and to share the translated recipes and videos: https://www.feedingbristol.org/