Community Kitchens have existed around the world for centuries. People have woven food and community together as an integral part of their lives. By collaborating people can broaden their daily menu well beyond the means of a single family. They also broaden their knowledge and experiences of food, sharing their own stories and building their confidence along the way.
In 2008 I established a pilot scheme to help in the battle against poor diet and health amongst the UKs most vulnerable communities, beginning with my own neighbourhood; Tower Hamlets in East London. Community Kitchens UK – CKUK was set up as a not for profit organisation and served as a simple, sustainable way to give people the opportunity to work together to help themselves.
CKUK brought together small groups of like-minded individuals on a weekly basis to cook fresh, nutritious and affordable meals in existing community kitchen facilities. CKUK won funding from the National Lottery and Big Community schemes and the support of Tower Hamlets council where it was rolled out across the London Borough.
The scheme won credit from the British Medical Journal and the European Clinical Nutritional Journal as being ‘a contributing factor in helping reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes’ in collaboration with Barts and the Royal London Hospital.
Because of its success, I was asked to become a Public Health Strategist for Tower Hamlets, which I did, working on improving the diets of young people until my move to the South West.