On 29 April, 26 participants with expertise in delivering and supporting community based cooking skills projects, attended a workshop organised by the Food Research Collaboration (FRC) at the City, University of London.
The event was chaired by Helen Crawley, Director of First Steps Nutrition. Participants consisted of representatives from six different community based cooking skills projects, seven local authorities, three universities, NHS Scotland, NHS Wales and Public Health England.
Cooking skills are critical for achieving health and sustainable dietary goals and yet they are in general decline in the UK. Community based cooking skills projects that aim to fill this skills gap are also in decline due to cut backs in public funding. Since cooking skills projects are diverse in scope (i.e. target group, model of intervention and intended outcome) and there is a lack of centralised support for them at the national level (in England); standards and requirements demanded by those commissioning them at the local level can vary and be unrealistic.
The aim of the workshop was to bring a broad range of expertise and experience together to contribute to the creation of evidence-based practical guidance on how to identify and measure project outcomes, to be used by both commissioners and practitioners. It also explored how to better “make the case” for cooking skills.
Following a number of presentations on the current situation for cooking skills projects in England, Wales and Scotland and the findings of a draft FRC evidence review on cooking skills projects; key challenges and gaps on the use of outcomes were identified. The differing perspectives and priorities of commissioners and practitioners in relation to the intended guidance were shared and discussed. A report on the workshop is available to download.