Story by Monisha Saldanha
Jamie is on a mission to ensure that people all over the world know how to cook. Through his school dinners campaign launched in 2006, he learned that it wasn’t enough to just change how kids ate at school, if parents didn’t support with wholesome food at home. So he followed up with a Ministry of Food campaign in 2009 which featured centres where individuals and families could learn to cook for free. The Ministry of Food centres have been a great success, with classes booked up months ahead of time, and has been followed by equally popular centres in Leeds and Bradford in 2010 (and more to come!)
Jamie is looking beyond the United Kingdom, and he has teamed up with The Good Guys (a major consumer electronics and whitegoods retailer) who are committing AUS$5million to build, equip and run community based Jamie’s Ministry of Food centres, both permanent and mobile, around Australia.
Australia is now one of the most obese countries in the world. Changes in family life, the rise of convenience foods, and a lack of compulsory food education in schools has resulted in huge numbers of people losing touch with one of life’s most essential skills: cooking. Jamie passionately believes that the most effective way to combat this lack of knowledge is to tackle it head on, with good information and practical cookery lessons for everyone.
“When you know how to cook, you’ve got control over your life and your health. Cooking is one of the most important things we can ever learn in life and with the right sort of information and teaching, absolutely anybody can cook. It’s wonderful, it’s fun, and most importantly, it changes lives,” says Jamie.
In Australia, shocking figures provided by the National Preventative Health Taskforce show that being overweight or obese affects over 60% of Australian adults and 25% of Australian children. The total financial cost in Australia of obesity alone, not including overweight people, was estimated at $8.3 billion in 2008. The most recent projections indicate that there will be an extra 6.7 million obese Australians by 2025. This frightening statistic clearly demonstrates an urgent need for action!
In an effort to tackle this Australian health issue, The Good Guys have committed significant funding and resources to set up and develop Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia. The Good Guys has announced the establishment of a new independent not-for-profit organisation called The Good Foundation, of which Jamie’s Ministry of Food will be a priority project.
Andrew Muir, chairman of The Good Guys says, “The growing list of health concerns related to poor eating habits affects all Australians for which we all need to take responsibility. We believe this initiative has the potential to improve the health and social welfare of communities right across Australia. The Good Foundation is putting up its hand.”
Jamie’s food revolution will empower people, through giving them the skills to change their eating and cooking behaviour, to make both short and long terms changes to their lives. Based on the success of Jamie’s Ministry of Food initiative in the UK, Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia is all about encouraging people to go back into the kitchen and cook again.
Jamie says, “I’m delighted that The Good Guys will be helping to make Ministry of Food a success in Australia.”
About the Author: Monisha Saldanha works on Jamie Oliver's web team. “It’s the best job ever, combining my love of food and the internet. Couldn’t ask for more!” she says.
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