Guest blog: One Pot at a Time – Tameside’s Targeted Slow Cooker Project

Guest blog: One Pot at a Time – Tameside’s Targeted Slow Cooker Project

In this guest blog, we hear from Victoria Hamlett, Public Health Programme Officer at Tameside Council, about ‘One Pot at a Time’, a targeted slow cooker project designed to support vulnerable residents struggling to eat well during the cost of living crisis.

The cost-of-living crisis has shown the potential to negatively impact people’s health and wellbeing in a number of ways, particularly for the most vulnerable residents.

The Eat Well Guide supports people to eat healthily, but this is simply unaffordable for many families in the UK . Higher food and energy prices mean residents are unable to afford healthy food and may be more likely to purchase cheaper food of low nutritional value, or even go without.

Deprivation and less healthy weight are strongly linked – 15.7% of Tameside households struggle with food insecurity and 24.9% of children in Tameside live in a low-income household. 10.6% of reception children in Tameside are experiencing overweight and obesity and this more than doubles for year 6 children (22.4%). 69% of adults in Tameside are living overweight or obesity. We know deprivation increases the risk of children being at risk of having a less healthy weight, both underweight, overweight and obesity.

Tameside Council and the Tameside Food Partnership developed ‘One Pot at a Time’, as a response to professionals and residents requesting practical support for households they work with. The project provides slow cookers to vulnerable households that are negatively impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, along with starter kits (cooking utensils, herbs and spices) to residents who do not have access to cooking equipment. An Energy Saving Top tips and Recipe Booklet was also developed that provides information and signposting on ways to limit spend on energy, low-cost recipes and meal planners and shopping lists.

Impact and Evaluation:

To date, the project has supported 398 households, including:

  • 112 single person households
  • 75 two person households
  • 188 households with children under 18, of which 87 households had children under four years old and 37 with children under one year of age
  • 538 children under 18

Community groups and organisations identified residents who would benefit from ‘One Pot at a Time’, provided them with a slow cooker and delivered group cooking sessions to build their knowledge and skills around food and cooking.

The impact of the project is continuously evaluated with professionals, they told us:

  • Over 90% said the household has benefitted from the slow cooker project
  • Over 70% said the household has improved their nutrition
  • Over 60% said they felt the positive changes they have seen the household make since receiving the project are sustainable
  • Over 90% described the project as empowering
  • Over 80% said the project has helped to improve perceptions and relationships between the professional/service and household

The main benefits professionals have seen as a result of the project were:

  • Ability to make warm meals without worrying about fuel prices of other kitchen appliances (over 70%)
  • Reduced pressure of the cost-of-living crisis (over 60%)
  • Eating a variety of meals (60%)
  • Food going further (50%)

The impact of the project is also continuously evaluated with residents who completed the evaluation survey, they said:

  • The project has helped them to eat healthier e.g. fewer ready-meals, fewer takeaways and increased fruit and veg consumption (96%)
  • More aware of ways to make their food go further e.g., batch cooking and using leftovers (80%)
  • Over half had noticed a reduction in their energy usage since using the slow cooker
  • The project has helped them to eat well for less (88%)

Case studies and feedback:

“The household were previously struggling to afford food and relied on foodbanks, however client is able to increase food options and recipes with less spending using the slow cooker”. (Professional)

“My family was living off cereal, sandwiches and microwave meals before getting the slow cooker”. (Professional)

“The family I work with is a single parent on benefits with a disabled child and other children. She will admit she is not a good cook, however the slow cooker has helped her make some delicious meals. It has saved on time, effort and energy bills.” (Professional)

“I could not thank the team enough, I have the baby’s food in one and ours in the other, as I have learnt that baby can’t have salt and stuff. This enables me to provide what food the kids like but in different batches, also saves me time now especially in the autumn months” (Household supported)

“The main benefit has been learning to cook new meals and enjoyable meals for my fussy children” (Household supported)

We mainly ate ready-meals before but now I always make everything from scratch. Food is going further, I batch cook and using leftovers too. My son is also getting involved in cooking so he we’re spending more time together as a family. (Household supported)

Motivation to cook healthier, good for parents and children’s mental health, beneficial for my kids with autism, family time, helps me to cook with a disability. (Household supported)

‘One Pot at a Time’ is continuing to be delivered to households in need across the borough. However, we know that the food system is complex and this project is not the answer to all food-related issues, but it goes some way to supporting professionals and volunteers to empower the residents they work with by helping to make eating healthy easier, one pot at a time.

Autor Bio:

Victoria Hamlett is a Public Health Programme Officer at Tameside Council and is a Registered Public Health Practitioner (UKPHR) with a Masters in Public Health. Victoria leads on the One Pot At A Time project as part of the Food and Nutrition portfolio in Public Health. Victoria has worked on the Food and Nutrition portfolio for seven years and has developed and delivered various food and nutrition projects from leading on the Healthy Start scheme and embedding Healthy Start within key services across borough leading to an increase in uptake of residents accessing the Healthy Start scheme, supporting campaigns such as Kind To Teeth and GULP, as well as carrying out a number of consultations to understand residents experience of the food system locally. Victoria is currently in the process of developing a Food Strategy Plan for Tameside that looks to take a whole systems approach to improving the food system across Tameside.

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