Cooking up a love for life and learning about food together
Bringing together a diverse group of 10 housing residents for five weekly cooking classes was a triumph in improving wellbeing, breaking down social barriers, and empowering residents to live their best possible lives.
Each Friday afternoon from 12.30-2.00pm, the residents gathered at Jamie’s Ministry of Food in Ipswich. The meaning and impact of the classes differed for each resident, but all who came agreed they had fun and they were thankful for the opportunity to take part.
For Tabatha, who is a wheelchair user, the feeling of empowerment that she experienced and the positive affirmation that she received through the classes was real and meaningful to her. She explained that when she was growing up, her family wouldn’t let her cook in the kitchen because they didn’t think she was able.
However, through the enthusiastic encouragement from our team for her to attend the classes, Tabatha felt genuinely welcome, excited to be learning new cooking skills and looked forward to the class every week.
Jamie’s Ministry of Food trainer, Tamara, said that working with the Churches of Christ class, and particularly meeting Tabatha, was a bright highlight of her year in the job.
“Every week Tabatha went home and practiced what she’d learnt by cooking the recipes again. She told me how grateful she was and that she never thought she could do this.”
“That’s why we do this – to change lives,” Tamara said.
While housing resident Judy is confident in the kitchen, she still learnt new cooking skills, nutrition tips and loved the whole experience.
She said she attended the classes because she had an interest, from an Indigenous perspective, in nutrition and taking care of her health. She also wanted to get some cooking tips and learn about different ingredients. After one of the classes Judy said, “I feel great! I had fun, and it was nice to meet new people”.
To ensure the participants could attend the class, our Housing Chaplains Michelle and Wes travelled to and from different suburbs to give a lift to five of the 10 residents.
“Distance and the cost of transport is sometimes a barrier preventing residents from engaging with the wider community,” Wes said.
“Travelling together helped them to grow their friendships as they were able to chat about the class and then also chat generally about life,” he said.
The cooking classes provided the perfect opportunity for residents to practice essential social skills and Wes said it was also great to see the residents re-connecting independently outside of the class hours.
Robert also attended the classes and he believes that they can help people, like himself, who have anxiety.
“It gets you out to be social and gets you out of your comfort zone,” he said.
“It gives you more confidence to go out because, if you can do this, you can get out and do other things.”.
Tamara said it is the love of food that unites participants.
“No matter where you’ve been in life, we are all united in this place by the love of food. I feel our participants surprise themselves with the abilities they unlock. They discover cooking skills, nutrition tips and Jamie’s tricks!”