Trust funds Food Leaders programme to help tackle food insecurity

Trust funds Food Leaders programme to help tackle food insecurity

An innovative project involving some of Bristol’s top chefs is creating Food Leaders with the skills to help reduce food insecurity among older people.

Funded by a St Monica Trust Charitable Impact grant, Food Leaders is a five-week programme for people who are over 50 and work within community groups that support older people.

The programme aims to tackle food insecurity by increasing the number of people who have the skills to deliver quality cookery lessons that encourage cooking from scratch, saving money, reducing waste and healthy eating.

Bristol's leading chefs

Learning from some of Bristol’s leading chefs and food educators, the programme provided learners with an understanding of how to run fun and engaging food and cookery activities within their community groups; learn about older people’s dietary needs; and explore the positive impact of intergenerational cooking.

At one of the sessions held in the kitchens at Monica Wills House Retirement Village in Bedminster, Michelin star chef, Josh Eggleton and St Monica Trust’s Food Development Manager, Adrian Kirikmaa gave learners a demonstration in batch cooking.

Adrian and Josh took the eight learners through a step-by-step process of cooking both a vegetarian and meat lasagne from scratch using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Adrian Kirikmaa, said: “In the demonstration, myself and Josh looked to provide cookery tips to show that batch cookery can be exciting and tasty, as well as saving time.

"Batch cookery is an extremely beneficial way of cooking, either for larger groups of older people, such as lunch clubs or community groups, or for creating multiple servings of nutritious meals that can then be eaten at home."

Making cooking fun

One of the learners, Laurie Roche runs the Batch Cook Club with Seema Vekaria in South Bristol. She said: “The course was an opportunity for us to learn more about planning and delivering sessions that are more inclusive for older people.

“We looked at the benefits of putting on cooking sessions for older people in a broader sense, in that it’s not just about the cooking.

"It’s about the opportunity to get together socially, enjoy the collaborative approach to cooking a meal and making sessions fun, which is as equally beneficial as giving them the skills to cook.

“It was great to hear from professional chefs and their different approaches to cooking family favourites, such as lasagne and we took something different away from everyone who came and spoke to us.

"It’s been really fun and informative and Seema and myself have really enjoyed it!”

Charitable Impact Team

Supporting the lives of older people in Bristol and the surrounding area has been part of the vision for St Monica Trust since it began more than 100 years ago.

Today its Charitable Impact team helps tackle a variety of issues by distributing hundreds of thousands of pounds to individuals, families and organisations across Bristol, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and Bath & North-East Somerset.

Charitable Giving Lead, Catherine Robinson, said: “An increasing number of older people live alone and, with the current pressures on finances, increasing numbers are constrained in their spending on food and are skipping meals.

“In funding this programme, the number of people who have the skills and confidence to deliver quality cookery lessons in the community has increased and it will be great to see the difference this model will make.

“Not only will the Food Leaders be tackling an issue that affects older people in the wider community, but there’s also the potential for them to return to the Trust and put on sessions for St Monica Trust residents.”

Food Leaders

Food Leaders is delivered by some of Bristol’s leading food educators, including Barny Haughton (Square Food Foundation), Jo Ingleby (The Children’s Kitchen), Kalpna Woolf (91ways) and Sarah Francis and Claire Mcloughlin (Travelling Kitchen), as well as Josh Eggleton and Adrian Kirikmaa.

The Square Food Foundation’s Managing Director, Eloise Morton said: “We are thrilled that the St Monica Trust’s Charitable Impact have supported this programme.

"We know from working in the community that older people are at a higher risk of experiencing food insecurity, which in recent months has been further exacerbated by the cost of living crisis.

“Furthermore, there is increasing evidence that loneliness and isolation are huge risk factors for people’s mental health and well-being.

"Therefore, by upskilling more people who can go out into the community to provide fun, engaging and appropriate cookery session with older people, it will support our mission to reduce food insecurity and loneliness amongst older people.”

Click here for more information about the Trust's Charitable Impact Team or email

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