Friends of Fun Food was born out of a growing concern about unhealthy eating habits with more people than ever eating fast food and too few fresh fruit and vegetables. Our research tells us that costs, lack of knowledge, lack of interest in cooking and low levels of cooking confidence are major barriers. Our project is all about stimulating new found interest in food. The project is broad-based, but our primary focus is in supporting disadvantaged and low-income individuals and families and in providing guidance in cooking nutritious meals on a budget. “Let the adventure begin…”
“The cookery sessions really helped my family. My daughter has struggled with eating and illness since she was little so it’s been really good seeing her trying new foods”
Funding and Partnerships
Our project is all about putting the fun back into food – broadening experience, gaining skills and confidence – and in people supporting one another in cooking together. We are proud to have worked with some influential local stakeholders who share our concern and desire to see our relationship with food change for the better. These include Bolton Council, Bolton at Home, Adullam Housing Association, Age UK, Bolton University and Probation services. We also work with schools and community groups in disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
The project was originally funded by popular demand through People’s Millions. It then went on to receive National Lottery funding support until November 2019. The success of our work has led us to develop several exiting new partnership initiatives which have needed to be put on hold as a consequence of the pandemic.
How it works
Friends of Fun Food provides cookery sessions and food activities to help people gain the skills and confidence to buy, prepare and cook food. This has been largely done in one-to-one and group settings, although we plan to make more of our resources available on-line. We guide participants in preparing meals from scratch. Our sessions provide:
- Food budgeting guides based on preferences, household size and budget,
- Guidance on food and kitchen safety,
- Tips on how to make simple changes that can have a big impact on nutritional health,
- Advice on the freezing and batching food,
- Tips on maximising the shelf and fridge life of food items,
- Recipe cards and booklets, ‘get cooking’ packs and take home ingredients.
We have developed a Pregnancy and Weaning Programme tailored to the specific needs of vulnerable expectant mothers and in partnership with Bolton University. We have also developed a Family Budget Cooking Course designed to help families improve their food budgeting skills and save money on their food shopping.
Summer food activities have included open access events which we have organised at venues alongside our Bolton Lunches project. These have engaged children and their parents in a range of interactive, food-related games and activities. We love seeing folk trying new foods and exploring new tastes, as well as families learning to cook and eat together.
As a consequence of the pandemic we are preparing for the possibility of increasing job losses and more families across Bolton having to manage within vastly reduced household budgets. Friends of Fun Food has the resources and ability to help families make their money go further. We also have Covid-Secure arrangements which comply with social distancing requirements.
Over the past year, a total of 1,452 individuals were engaged and supported through Friends of Fun Food, (slightly down from 1,484 in the previous year). This included over 1,000 children and 400 adults within family groups and individuals. We worked with 19 schools and community centres, and participated in 43 community events.
From our recent surveys, 100% of participants said they were satisfied with our service, and 85% felt they had definitely gained confidence in cooking and food budgeting. You can read about the amazing impact our course had on a small family here.