Cooking up community connections

August 10, 2021 BY

Members David Quinn and Luke Potter preparing food for the morning.

COMMUNITY members are cooking up a storm at Community Kitchens, an initiative which brings people together through social cooking sessions.

The nationwide initiative has been bringing people together cook on a weekly basis since 2004.

Bethany services began supporting the concept in 2007 when community kitchens began to form in the Geelong region, with Barwon Health’s Healthy Communities team taking over the support role in 2009. Member of the Healthy Communities team at Barwon Health, Suzanne Harman, said Community Kitchens offer more than improving participant’s culinary skills.

“A community kitchen is not just about cooking, but also connecting with others in your community, developing confidence, self-esteem and working as a team,” Ms Harman said.

Community Kitchen group members decide on recipes for the following week, with all stages of the food preparation process shared among members including the shopping.

Participants pay roughly five dollars per week which covers the cost of the ingredients.

Most community kitchens share the food together, but some groups decide to take it home.

There is also a volunteer trained to support the group, manage the paperwork and the finances, while maintaining the philosophy of developing a sense of community around food.

Norlane Community Kitchen facilitator and qualified chef, Tony Contessa, said he loved bringing people together at Norlane’s Community Centre and that the initiative provided many benefits for attendees.

“It’s the camaraderie that is the biggest thing,” Mr Contessa said.

“A lot of the people live on their own, they are elderly, they haven’t got a partner or their partner has passed away and it just provides a morning out.”

Each Friday, the group is scheduled to meet at the centre by 10 o’clock in the morning and conclude by one o’clock in the afternoon, but many members are there by nine and finish at two according to Mr Contessa.

The group also has people of all backgrounds participating.

“We have people living with a disability come in to help out and also a Vietnamese lady and her partner too,” he said.

“We have all sorts of people come in.”

For more information call 03 4215 3476.

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