Cooking up a feast with Food etc


Ashe is a keen supporter of local community interest company Food etc which provides cookery workshops for families in deprived areas of Bedfordshire to encourage healthy eating.

Two members of Ashe’s project business support team, Lesley Goodman and Chay Scott went along to one of the sessions to find out how Ashe’s support is helping Food etc’s work, and to lend a hand with the cooking activities.

The school has 419 pupils three quarters of whom have English as a second language. Over a quarter are eligible for free school meals and they have three times the average number of children with special educational needs.

Ashe funded the cookery course which was attended by five mothers and nine children who were chosen by the school because of the type of issues they cope with.

Challenges families experience can range from fussy eating to struggling financially. They may have parents with mental health difficulties or experience domestic abuse in the household.

Lesley and Chay got stuck in by helping to set up for the session, laying out food and utensils, and helping to prepare vegetables and washing up with the children at the end.

22-year-old Lesley said: “I really enjoyed it! It is an amazing thing for the children to get to do, they seemed to really love it and they were all very appreciative. They were all full of energy so there was plenty to do!! Thank you for the opportunity, it was wonderful to help out and to see the children enjoy it so much made it even more worth it! It’s also encouraged me to do a little more cooking at home.

“If there are any more opportunities to volunteer, please let us know, it would be great to help out again and I am sure there are others within Ashe that would love this too.”

Chay said: “I think the session went really well and I enjoyed it as much as the children did. Thanks for the opportunity and I would love to attend any future sessions.”

The courses provide an opportunity for emotional interaction between the parents and children, and there are various courses available.

Julie Clay, founder of Food etc said: “We’ve received some wonderful feedback from the families who attended the workshop. They said they’d learned new recipes and how to use different ingredients, and how to cook more cheaply and healthily. A by-product has been that they’ve enjoyed spending time with their children and have increased their cooking confidence, learned how to save money on food bills and how to cook more varied meals.

“We couldn’t do any of this important work without the help of companies like Ashe.”

Commenting on the way Food etc’s work helps both children and parents, Sheila Durham, Parent Support Worker & Designated Safeguarding Lead at Cauldwell School said: “Food etc brings many benefits to the parents who attend their cookery workshop courses. Obviously, it shows them how fresh food can be made at low cost and allows children to try new foods that they may not have experienced previously. It also gives time in a positive environment with opportunities to talk about their situation if they want to. We have seen relationships between parents and children develop throughout the courses which feedback into social care or early help plans.”

To find out how you can support Food etc’s work, click here