CAPTION: Merenna Wilson cooking one of her recipes with a group of volunteers

New Family Fun Cooking Club launched to help families eat well and cook together

Posted: 14th February, 2020

A new community initiative to encourage families to cook healthy meals together and tackle food poverty has been launched by the Church of England in Devon.

Family Fun Cooking Club has been devised by the Diocese of Exeter Education team following research into ‘holiday hunger’ commissioned by the Bishop of Exeter.

A series of budget-friendly recipes have been created by nutritionist Merenna Wilson. The chef and food writer Jack Monroe has also given approval for some of her recipes to be used.

Churches, schools and community organisations are being encouraged to prepare bags with the ingredients in and download recipe cards for families to pop in and collect during the school holidays or at other times of the year.

They are also being invited to run cooking clubs where children make one of the meals and are also given a recipe card and bag of ingredients to take home afterwards.

“We definitely see that there is an issue around holiday hunger” Emily England, Headteacher of Chudleigh Primary School

Tatiana Wilson, Education Advisor for the Church of England in Devon, said: “Family Fun Cooking Club was partly inspired by the West Berry federation of schools in North Devon.

“They realised that some of their families were struggling to get enough food in the holidays.

“As a diocese we have been looking for ways in which we can support families in the holidays with food.

“We talked to foodbanks and schools and found out that some families aren’t going to foodbanks because that’s not ‘what they do’.

“Others can’t get to them because of the distance they have to travel and that’s preventing them from accessing food for their families.

The club was launched with the help of children from Chudleigh Primary School

Merenna Wilson said: “All the recipes have been developed using really basic ingredients which are readily available in shops and foodbanks.

“The nutritional content has also been worked out so there is a portion of fruit or veg in every recipe.

“They are all fun to make and are designed for children to muck in and get their hands dirty.

“It’s about the whole family coming together to cook together and then eat together.”

Family Fun Cooking Club was launched at Chudleigh CE VC Community Primary School.

The Head Teacher Emily England said: “About 20% of our pupils are what would be classed as disadvantaged.

We do find a number of families trying to access foodbanks during the holidays.

“Some find it quite difficult because they don’t have transport. We definitely see that there is an issue around holiday hunger.

“Families today often have very limited time together so cooking together is important and then sitting and eating together is a shared experience.”

The Reverend Eleanor Moffat is the minister at Chudleigh Baptist Church, which meets in the school, she said: “Holiday hunger is an issue here in Chudleigh.

“Not knowing how best to help has made us hesitate to know what we could take on that was sustainable.

“Perhaps something like this could be a more flexible resource than some other schemes that we have looked into.

“It’s certainly something that as a church we feel is important.”

The recipe cards are available to download from the Diocese of Exeter website

Emma Funnell is a member of the church, a local GP and is involved in Chudleigh Foodbank and the Chudfridge Community Project.

She said: “Often school holidays are a time when food bank use increases and people struggle to make ends meet.

“This kind of initiative could be a great way to provide more food for families and bring people together in new ways without the stigma of having to use foodbanks.”

Tatiana is keen for families who do try out the recipes to feel part of the club. The Church of England, Devon, has set up an Instagram account #familyfuncookingclub where families can post pictures of their culinary creations and share cooking tips.

“We are hoping Family Fun Cooking Club will enable all families, wherever they are in Devon or across the UK, to access good ingredients to cook a family meal together,” she said.

Click here to download the recipe cards and the Family Fun Cooking Club promo video