City West’s Eat It Fresh programme sees the social landlord work with the council’s health improvement team and Chorlton-based Cracking Good Food to deliver a series of pop-up cooking events.
The project was kick-started by all three partners at a community launch event held in Swinton on Friday, August 28.
The event saw over 50 members of the public join two chefs from Cracking Good Food, who delivered a demonstration of how easy it is to cook healthy meals with fresh ingredients – before challenging volunteers to cook their own dishes.
Residents attending the event were also given cooking starter packs containing a range of condiments from cooking oils, to herbs and sauces - helping them to spice up their meals and get creative in the kitchen.
Local resident Anne Pinkney took part in the day’s activities. Anne said: “It’s easy to put a ready meal in the microwave, but today has proved just how simple it is to cook a healthy meal from scratch. People in the community have really put a lot of effort into maintaining the gardens here and this will be another great project that will benefit everyone.”
The Eat It Fresh team will now work with residents over an initial six-month pilot to develop gardening skills so they can grow their own food, before learning how to whip up a culinary delight in the kitchen.
The project will take place at the recently opened community garden in the Valley neighbourhood in Swinton – which was created as part of City West’s Growing Communities project to help bring the neighbourhood together.
City West, along with Cracking Good Food, will hold a two-day training course twice every month to teach the residents a range of skills – from hygiene, to the basics of nutrition and how to plan meals. Residents will also get hands on in their own cooking workshops, whist receiving tips on how to adapt recipes to keep meal-times interesting.
Once the pilot has finished, volunteers will work alongside City West’s community development team to set up a long-term plan to help keep the community cooking.
Martyn Hague, Assistant Director of Neighbourhoods at City West, said: “Our new initiative gives residents a taste of how growing and cooking fresh produce is both healthy and affordable.
“Eat It Fresh is putting the fun back into home cooking, whilst giving residents the chance to get together and learn the skills needed cook up a storm in their own kitchens – making mealtimes that bit more special.
“By putting the future of the project into the hands of our customers, we are empowering them to develop a programme of activity that suits them best – so they can continue to learn top cooking tips and feel the benefits of healthy eating too.”