Fund Cooks up Funding for a Tasty Community Project

Date Released - 17/03/2023

CHEAP, tasty, healthy and versatile meals are at the heart of a cooking project that has benefited from Tameside Community Safety Partnerships’ Building Stronger Communities Fund which ran at the end of last year.

“Cooking on a Budget and Volunteer Training” – part-funded by Jigsaw Homes – saw successful applications by Smallshaw Hurst Community Action Group, Mossley Community Centre, Stalybridge Baptist Church, the People’s Community (Dukinfield) and the Rough Diamonds (Ashton).

The aim of the project is to respond to the cost-of-living crisis by training volunteers in the skills needed to organise sessions showing how to prepare nourishing and cheap meals using basic ingredients that are available from foodbanks, community pantries and home cupboards.

Those attending have gained the confidence to cook and then share recipes, skills, and tips with friends, families and others so that even more people benefit and are able to eat well at minimum cost.

Participants are also shown how to use slow cookers which are very economical in terms of power and allow batches be prepared, allowing meals to be frozen and eaten later.

Dishes include lentil dahl, savoury chicken, chilli, cauliflower and chickpea curry, vegetable hotpot and macaroni cheese.

Due to demand, Jigsaw Homes have now funded additional sessions. Some of the volunteers have linked into Tameside’s population health improvement team’s one-to-one resident slow-cooking programme.

Community chef Karla Mandiwala said: “These weekly food demonstrations, showing how to cook from scratch, have been very popular in the way they utilise pantry ingredients and share tips and tricks on reducing food waste. 

“Participants get to sample the tasty dishes at the end of the sessions, inspiring them to try them at home.”

Cllr Vimal Choksi, Tameside Council’s executive member for towns and communities, said: “I can’t see how anyone could fail to be impressed by the way such a simple scheme has such far-reaching consequences.

“As more and more people attend the sessions they are learning cookery skills that can be passed on to family, friends and members of their community organisation. Some are involved with allotments which adds an extra ingredient.

“Some of those attending had never peeled produce or cooked beans pulses or lentils before. Now, they know these items are cheap to buy, easy to prepare in large quantities and very tasty to eat.”