Thu 17th Mar 2011 13:56 | Back
After over two years of behind-the-scenes work by the Jamie Oliver Foundation, Leaside Regeneration Ltd. and NHS Newham, the first Ministry of Food centre in London is about to become a reality to provide cooking classes for the communities of East London.
The Stratford Ministry of Food will begin as a mobile centre, bringing cooking lessons and demonstrations to schools, community centres and businesses across the borough of Newham, and it is expected to include a permanent centre later this year. The centre is currently looking for entrepreneurial local people with a good knowledge of cooking to staff the centre – training will be provided. The centre will operate as a social business.
A delighted Jamie Oliver said: “This is a day that I’ve dreamed about – the first Ministry of Food Centre in London. If it’s half as successful as the Ministries in Rotherham, Bradford and Leeds, it will still be providing an incredibly important service to the people of East London. Knowing how to cook nutritious and delicious food using fresh ingredients is an essential life-skill but because it hasn’t been taught in schools for many years, we’ve got a couple of generations of people who don’t have the knowledge. Ministry of Food centres offer that knowledge and because they’re staffed by local people, it’s like being taught to cook by your mates or your neighbours.”
Ministry of Food centres in the North all have classes booked up many months in advance showing the enormous desire to learn to cook in British towns and cities. According to recent research from the Leeds Ministry, many people who have been through the MoF course of 10 lessons have revealed that it’s given them confidence, helped them lose weight and save money.
Jamie continues: “Ministries of Food are hugely welcoming places and they make cooking fun so people don’t feel they’re being made to do something they don’t want to do. It’s the perfect way to nudge people to change their behaviour when it comes to food and eating and, for many, they never eat the same way again. I’ve heard from men who have been living off take-away food after their marriages have broken down, and the Ministry course has given them a whole new life-skill. I’ve also heard from young mums who weren’t confident with cooking and were worried about what to feed their kids – during the course, they’ve caught the cooking bug and never looked back. We’ve had groups of firemen doing the course, care-home workers, all ages, all kinds of people.”
Jamie’s Ministry of Food Stratford will be run by Leaside Regeneration Ltd. with support from the Jamie Oliver Foundation, NHS Newham, the Medical Research Council (Human Nutrition Research) and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research. Classes will begin in May 2011.
Carlos Montes from Leaside Regeneration Ltd. added: “Leaside Regeneration has worked with communities in the Lower Lea valley for over 13 years and is delighted to set-up a Jamie's Ministry of Food in Stratford. Newham is a young, diverse and dynamic Olympic borough with innovative public health services and is a natural home for the first ever Ministry of Food in London. The Ministry of Food will be a fun and entrepreneurial hub that will help nurture the talents of our unique community.”
Rosie Boycott, Chair of London Food said (on the announcement of the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food Stratford): “This is a fantastic initiative from Jamie Oliver, which should help a whole new generation be inspired by cooking and develop a healthy love of food. This area of East London has high levels of obesity and illness linked to poor diets and I hope that this scheme along with the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will inspire local people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.”
Rachel Flowers, Joint Director of Public Health for Newham said that "Newham is delighted to work with the Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food. Jamie's approach to making cooking food fun will inspire local people to learn new cooking skills and help them increase their knowledge and awareness of healthy eating and, perhaps more importantly, how this can be translated into good healthy home cooked food on a plate that they know their family will eat and enjoy"
Susan Jebb Medical Research Council, Human Nutrition Research and co-author of the influential 2007 Foresight Report ‘Tackling Obesities’ commented: "Good food is vital to good health and this is a real opportunity to help equip people with the confidence and cooking skills they need to be able to prepare healthy food for themselves and their families".
About the author: Milla Cameron is Jamie's Ministry of Food campaign manager
Read more about Jamie's Ministry of Food Stratford.
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