Nacro has recently started to work with Bags of Taste, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to change the everyday diets of people who are either in, or who face food poverty. They promote the regular cooking of healthy, tasty, home-cooked food, away from dependence on highly-processed and takeaway foods, aiming to improve diets and finances.
The partnership is being piloted with 10 of our service users in Teesside this week and we are planning to roll it out across Nacro housing services between now and March 2021, with each week seeing another 10 Nacro service users being enrolled on the course.
Bags of Taste mentors will provide telephone support to our service users over the course of two to three weeks, and Nacro staff are delivering the food which our service users will need for these sessions (image below). Examples of dishes are Channa Masala, Italian Pasta Sauce and Middle Eastern Pilaf.
P was part of the first cohort of service users referred by Nacro to Bags of Taste. In his initial discussion about the course he admitted he was not a very good cook and had become reliant on takeaways and ready meals but he was willing to give the recipes a try. As soon as P’s bag of food was delivered he began cooking the first dish.
“Radio on, knives sharpened, onions chopped,.tears flowing!” P was so engaged with his Bags of Taste mentor and was asking questions all the time he was cooking.
P made his second recipe the following day, posting up pictures of his cooking and preparation while he was making the pasta sauce. “I am loving this. Wished I’d started years ago. I’ve surprised myself”.
P cooked his mushroom pilaf the following day. He posted pictures of his cooking, plus the fact he burned the rice at the bottom of the saucepan! P is continuing to cook and posted a photo of some Swiss shortcake biscuits he made.
“I’m definitely going to do more cooking, I’m fitter and healthier, and the kitchen is a pleasant environment to be in. Even when I made mistakes I could learn from them and go again. It helps when you’re dancing in the kitchen doing stuff. Having someone to ask a question and support you makes the experience much easier and reassures you”.
P’s Bags of Taste mentor, said: “I can only describe the course as life-changing for P. Not only does he wish he had discovered cooking earlier in his life, he also feels that now, as a retiree, he can work again either in a voluntary or paid capacity, as some manner of chef. He is committed to doing the follow on recipes and he is already actively seeking new recipes from me and is watching a cooking show to teach him more of the basics. He feels happier and healthier than previously, and in particular it has done wonders for his mental health. It’s been a privilege to work with him“.
P’s mentor has suggested that P could possibly co-mentor with him for another Nacro group in the future.