First Step – Cooking, Food and Health

Direct work with parents and carers in First Step has been going on since Sept 2011 in each of the four agreed goals of the social marketing group.

The main focus of work since January has been to support and build confidence with cooking and basic skills. Nine people attended food hygiene training in January which enabled staff and parents to take forward cooking demonstration sessions. To date sixteen people have participated in these sessions, getting involved in menu suggestions, sharing the preparation work and the sample the dishes.

At the last steering group meeting staff commented on the changes with some of the young mums.  For example, they noticed during Yummy Mummies group time that some of the mums were looking at recipe books and discussing the meals – something staff said they had never witnessed with this group before. Other examples included the story of a young mum who previous didn’t cook at all and predominately ate take-away food. Since participating in the cooking sessions she has had friends/family over for dinner – which she cooked.

Recently the parents had a Bring a Dish day to celebrate their newly acquired skills and progress. They have also offered to cook a lunch meal for the Social Marketing Steering Group, which the group warmly welcomed.

Work has recently begun with graphics company Creative Link to develop a “Healthy Eating Keepsake”.  This will be a printed folder, with recipes from parents and “Top Ten Tips” suggested by parents and carers designed onto the front of the folder.  Focus groups to generate the Top Ten Tips will be conducted with First Step users and staff.  The idea with the tips is that they are short pieces of advice around healthy eating – breakfasts, snacks, cooking or general parenting, mealtime and other eating issues, but very much in the parents and carers own words.  The aim is to have the product completed and available by June so they can be given to First Step users at an end-of-term event.

The Steering group is now identifying ways to share the learning from the pilot project.  One of the ideas is to present at the local Health Bites seminar.

A final report will be produced and disseminated widely including a link to it on this blog.