Cooking up a storm at the community shop

28 September 2018 | North East England

Andy Rees

Andy teaches families how to rustle up tasty, nutritious meals for under a fiver

For Andy Rees, teaching families to cook a delicious healthy dinner for under a fiver is about much more than food.

He says that families coming together to share a meal, perhaps inviting friends over, has a wider positive impact than simple nutrition.

He has been running family cookery workshops at Hull Community Shop for two years, and in that time he has cooked 1,000 meals.

His speciality is making a one pot meal with fresh ingredients for under a fiver and his tutorials have been life-changing.

Andy said: "Kids suffer so badly when their families are in food and fuel poverty.

"If mum and dad can't afford to feed them it means that their friends can't come round for tea and they miss out on that really important social element of their lives.

"I believe very much that if you sit down together as a family for a meal you engage more and it means a lot to be able to help the families who come to us to do that.”

During the summer break, Andy’s workshops helped to prevent what has become known as "holiday hunger" - which hits hard-pressed families who rely on free school meals to give their children nutritious food every day. And throughout the year, tips learned from Andy help parents on a budget dish up tasty, nutritious dinners for around £1 to £1.50 a head.

The recipes are all designed to be ready in 30 minutes or less, feed two adults and two children and cost between £3- £5 per meal.

After watching Andy’s demonstration, his audience can try the food and take home any leftovers, along with recipe cards to help them make the meals at home.

Parents are encouraged to bring their children along, to help interest them in cooking, and also so families can talk about recipes they would like to try.

Andy’s cooking lessons are provided at the Hull Community Shop.

The shop, in a deprived area of East Hull, is a membership scheme where residents on low incomes can come to collect food and household products.

Items are not priced, but members can make a cash donation within their budget if they wish, or they can contribute their time, perhaps by volunteering in the shop, or helping to prepare food for the cookery courses.

Part of the scheme also involves tending allotments where a team of dedicated volunteers will help them grow fresh fruit and veg to help feed their children.

Jan Boyd, chief executive of Environmental and Management Solutions, which runs the scheme that includes the shop as well as gardening clubs and allotments, said: “Hull is an area of high deprivation with many residents who are unemployed or long-term sick, but it is also a place with a great community spirit.” And she said that volunteers love to see the positive impact they are having, which shows how people helping people is a good thing for all of us.

She added: "We're proud to be part of that and it gives the team and the volunteers who give so much a great deal of pleasure to see that we're making a difference."

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