Bristol charities collaborate to deliver groundbreaking new food and cooking course to improve health for people with disabilities.

  • 29 April 2022

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Square Food Foundation, Brandon Trust and Milestones Trust have joined forces to deliver the first in a series of innovative new food and cookery courses that aim to improve the diet and health of people with disabilities by instilling the principles of healthy eating, providing simple food preparation skills and supporting learners to make the connection between what they eat and their physical and mental health.

Supported by NHS Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG), this new ‘Healthy Me’ course stands out from others that have gone before by working with people with disabilities and the people responsible for their care to ensure that everyone involved in daily meal planning, shopping and cooking has the same understanding of what is a healthy diet and has learned the same skills in order to achieve it.

Poor diet is associated with negative health outcomes and this is especially evident among people with disabilities. 60% of people with learning disabilities are constipated compared to 10% of people without learning disabilities, and 80 of 100 people with learning disabilities had constipation as a factor in their death.

Rosi Shepherd, Director of Nursing and Quality at BNSSG CCG said:

Maintaining a balanced diet may seem straightforward for many of us, but a lack of knowledge on how to cook and eat healthily for people with learning disabilities does have a negative impact on the risk of long-term health conditions and shortens life expectancy.

This new initiative provides hands-on, simple steps to make healthy eating more enjoyable and part of an every-day routine for people with learning disabilities and their carers. We’re really excited to see this innovative new programme develop and benefit the lives of local people.

Delivered by Square Food Foundation cookery school from its teaching kitchen in Knowle West, the Healthy Me course starts on 6 May and runs once a week for 12 weeks. Each programme will have space for 12 learners - six supported people and their support workers.

Learners will work together to cook a range of healthy dishes with a focus on fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and fibre. Along the way, they’ll gain practical and planning skills and key nutritional knowledge about maintaining a healthy diet. Session topics will include knife skills, healthier baking, cooking with spices and breakfast ideas, among others. At the end of every session, learners will take home a DIY recipe kit - with all the ingredients and instructions they need to cook a dish from scratch at home.

Square Food Foundation Founder and cookery teacher, Barny Haughton said:

We know that people with disabilities are more at risk from poor health outcomes linked to diet, and that they often depend on other people for their shopping and cooking. By equipping people with LD and those that support them in their everyday lives with exactly the same skills and knowledge, we’re removing a barrier to better health.

Lisa Bayley, Head of Learning at Milestones Trust said:

We know from our own work that the food people eat impacts both their physical and mental health. So, we’re excited to continue our journey with Square Food Foundation, supporting people with learning disabilities with healthy choices. Not only are the recipes nutritious, accessible and affordable, but the classes are also about having fun. Now the pandemic is easing, it’s important that the people we support feel able to get back out into the community again, connecting with other people.

James Densley, Area Manager for Brandon Trust added:

People with a learning disability face significant health inequalities throughout their lives, leading to serious consequences for their mental and physical wellbeing. Food and nutrition is a key factor, with research showing that less than 10% of adults living in supported accommodation eat a balanced diet. We’re delighted to be working with the Square Food Foundation on this brilliant initiative to equip people we support with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to cook and eat well. We think the course is going to be incredibly valuable for everyone taking part and can’t wait to see the positive impact it has.

For more information on Healthy Me, visit www.squarefoodfoundation.co.uk/healthy-me

The course starts on Friday 6 May and runs weekly for 12 weeks.

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