West London cooking clubs make a meal out of waste
West London Waste Authority has become the first waste authority in the UK to provide funding for Let's Get Cooking clubs.
Run by the Children's Food Trust, the nationwide project is the largest network of healthy cooking clubs in the UK, providing school-based cooking for children and their families.
Designed to arm individuals with the skills to prepare and cook healthy, nutritious food, the project also raises awareness of food waste and how to make leftovers go further.
"We spend a lot of time talking about what food they are likely to put in the dustbin and how it could be used instead of being thrown away," said Let's Get Cooking's regional manager for London Cat Sheppard.
With waste authorities increasingly looking at waste minimisation measures to slash disposal costs, cooking clubs provide a forum to deliver a range of life skills, which can in turn help to reduce wastage. The clubs not only help families to plan meals but also the confidence to cook for themselves.
"The more cooking that they've done, the more likely they are to look into the cupboard and think, 'That's what I've got and I can do something with that'," said Sheppard.
"Also, once you've got the skills to cook for yourself, you're more likely to make better decisions further down the line about what leftovers can be used."
Sheppard told edie that the clubs had also given young children the opportunity to taste food that they might not normally eat, building their confidence and widening their dietary choice.
"In all our surveys we've found that children who won't touch certain foods will eat what they've made."
West London Waste Authority is the first waste authority in the country to provide funding for Let's Get Cooking, which has received financial support from a number of sources since it started in July 2012. The authority has recently agreed to fund a second year of projects in the area.
"It's far easier to change a habit if it is fun to learn and you have the support of others," said waste minimisation coordinator Sarah Ellis.
"We think this is why Let's Get Cooking is so successful. Everyone who attends loves it and takes the waste reduction messages home with them."
Located in nine regions across the UK, Let's Get Cooking is also in discussions with other waste authorities across the country to replicate the achievements made in West London.
"A number of my regional colleagues have got meetings with various waste authorities in their region and they've been going to them with the results that we've had and said, 'Look, this is what you can get from participating'," added Sheppard.