THE KITCHEN CLUB MODEL
Kitchen Clubs are for parents and pre-school children to cook, eat and play together. Once a week, in a community space with a kitchen, local parents are invited to work together with an experienced food professional to make a delicious lunch with fresh, seasonal ingredients. At the same time, a range creative play activities for children are organised in the same space.
Sessions are informal, and there is no obligation to get involved. If parents want to simply stop by for a cup of tea, that’s ok.
Kitchen Club provides opportunities for informal, experiential learning, foster networks of accessible, local support and improve mental well-being. Preparing and sharing food together makes it easier to establish new relationships and may be particularly attractive to families who cannot easily afford to eat well. It is also a great opportunity to develop social skills.
Eating patterns established in early childhood influence health outcomes later in life, but children growing up in low income communities are less likely to eat well. Working through food therefore provides a great opportunity to encourage healthy eating.
As well as reducing social isolation and improving access to good quality food, Kitchen Club addresses several other key determinants of mental well-being including involvement in learning and opportunities to be valued, take control and influence decisions.
Parents from every background are welcome at Kitchen Club, but there is a special focus on engaging those who could benefit the most. To achieve this we use a community organising approach to reach families who have not engaged with mainstream provision and develop partnerships with children’s centres, health visitors and other services to refer-in specific families. Our priority is to understand the situation of parents who have not been reached by other interventions, ensuring that Kitchen Club is an inclusive, non-judgmental, community-owned space.
To include as many families as possible, all our food is vegetarian. Whenever possible we use fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
Relationships and wellbeing are at the centre of the Kitchen Club ethos and in line with this staff hold a debrief after every session to think about how different parents may have experienced the session and agree any steps that could be taken to improve things.