Jamie Oliver-trained community cooks provide food education in Crawley

Community cooks in and around Crawley have been teaching people to cook healthy, balanced and affordable meals as part of Tesco’s Community Cookery School, in partnership with Jamie Oliver and food redistribution charity FareShare.

The second phase of the Community Cookery School was launched earlier this year to help train community cooks in delivering helpful and practical cooking skills to families in their communities. Easy recipes such as veggie chilli, tinned salmon fishcakes with veggie slaw, and veggie soup with eggy muffins encouraged people to add more vegetables to their everyday meals.

Because of pandemic restrictions, the virtual lessons were streamed online, with the lessons developed and delivered by Jamie Oliver-trained community cooks and nutritionists.

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Valerijus Vilcinskas, a member of the Treasure Island and Eastern Stream Association charities

Among the Crawley community cooks taking part was Valerijus Vilcinskas, who is a member of the Treasure Island and Eastern Stream Association charities. He has shared his new-found knowledge with others so that as many Crawley people as possible can benefit.

He said: “We’re very grateful for this. The cooking and food-sharing has been really important to our local community. We’ve shared with about 30-50 people, and in the mornings we’ve done breakfast for less than 10 people, as rules allow.”

The courses covered knife skills and basic nutrition, as well as offering recipes that can be adapted to complement a wide variety of foods typically donated to food banks.

Oonagh Turnbull, Tesco Head of Health Campaigns, said: “We're so proud to have provided food education, inspiration and support to vulnerable families across the UK over the last few months. The past year has highlighted the need to focus on nutrition and it’s great to have played a part in supporting healthier communities.”

Valerijus Vilcinskas, a member of the Treasure Island and Eastern Stream Association charities

The cookery school initiative launched in 2019 with the aim of training 1,000 community cooks how to make meals with food typically donated by Tesco, while avoiding food waste – a target which was achieved by January 2020.

Katherine Hale, Food Education Manager at Jamie Oliver Group, said: “This year’s programme is focused on the importance of cooking balanced meals from scratch by offering ideas and recipes to increase the use of fruit and veg in everyday meals. We’re thrilled to have been able to reach so many community cooks digitally this year, despite the challenges we’ve all faced this year.”

Lindsay Boswell, Chief Executive at FareShare said: “The Tesco Community Cookery School has offered cooks an excellent opportunity to further their knowledge and provided inspiration for new meals they can make using food they receive through FareShare. This fantastic partnership between Tesco, Jamie Oliver and FareShare has resulted in thousands of families across the UK learning about the importance of nutrition.”

Tesco’s Community Cookery School is part of the retailer’s ongoing commitment to health. To find out more: https://www.tescoplc.com/news/2021/tesco-makes-ambitious-new-commitments-to-support-healthy-sustainable-diets/