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Canning Town Cook & Eat Course


This Cook & Eat course provided local residents with improved knowledge and awareness about healthy eating and cooking.

This course was delivered over three phases of six sessions on a weekly basis, which entailed a 3 hour combination of interactive group discussions and practical cooking sessions.



  • target at least 20 residents currently suffering from a poor diet and representing different sections of the community, ethnic groups and socio-economic groups
  • address current barriers to healthier eating
  • inspire, enable and motivate the community to eat more healthily
  • show how local & seasonal foods can be a convenient and more cost effective option, as well as celebrating cultural diversity through cooking

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Well London initial community engagement showed a perception locally that diets were unhealthy, especially among young people. This was believed to be due to many factors including the fact that healthy food is expensive and difficult to access due to the number of fast food outlets and the low quality of supermarkets in the area. Residents also feel that it is cheaper to buy junk food than healthier food.

There are some healthy eating options in the area, most notably the successful Newham food co-operative which ran a 5 week long healthy eating championship programme, which gave healthy eating advice and cooking classes. Awareness of the co-op and healthy eating programme was low, although those who did attend the classes found it to be a useful service. There are also cooking classes available for mothers. As a general consensus local people felt that more healthy eating cooking classes and a community slimming club were needed in the area.

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Recruitment for the course included door to door and school outreach and engagement at local community projects, health services including a Mental Health Locality Team Meeting, shops and eateries. Two Community health events were also carried out together with The Well London Delivery Team. They took place locally at the Hub centre and targeted members of the Canning Town community.

In addition the course promotional flyers were distributed within a one mile radius of the target area. Publicity was sent to colleagues and other professionals working with the local community in order to encourage referrals, and the course was advertised through organization newsletters.

The course was run over 6 weekly sessions, made up of a combination of interactive group discussions and practical cooking.

Topics included:

  • understanding the principles of healthy eating and a balanced diet
  • benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and Omega 3 rich foods such as oily fish
  • dangers of a high fat and sugar diet
  • Supermarket tour to explore healthy options when shopping
  • learning practical ways of interpreting food labels which empowered participants to make informed healthy food choices
  • quick and affordable snacks

At the end of the course participants received certificates and healthy living hampers at a celebration session.

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By the end of the course, those who were unsure about where to find out about healthy eating said they knew where to access information and most wanted to make a change to their lifestyle.

15 of the participants said they were more likely to attend another community centre, group or class following this course. 17 participants reported having made new friends and 18 said they would recommend the course to their family and friends.

Participants bonded well and as a result of the course went on to form a support network. They also shared regular feedback within the group on the positive changes they were making to their diet and lifestyle, and reported sharing information from the course with their friends and family were. Promotion of the course has generated a high demand for a well needed service within Newham.

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Pre and post evaluation questionnaires were used to measure the impact of the course and importance/confidence rulers were completed by participants in each session. These related to each weekly topic and aimed to get learners to reflect on the importance of making changes to their diet and lifestyle was and how confident they were to do so. These were revisited in the final session in order for participants to become aware of any changes that they had made over the 6 week period.

The pre-programme survey was carried out surveying 19 participants, 18 of whom reported that they wanted to make changes to their diet and seven of whom did not know where to get the information from. Seven of the participants had received information on healthy eating in the last six months and only 13 knew what Fairtrade food was. Out of 19, 15 reported that they were often or sometimes sad, anxious or depressed.

In the post-course survey, seven participants had increased their cooking from basic ingredients and 10 were eating more fruit and vegetables. Six were increasing consumption of oily fish and 11 changed the type of bread they ate from brown or white to wholemeal or granary. Understanding of the Eatwell Plate model increased from four to 18 participants being confident/ very confident.

11 participants demonstrated improved perceptions of their health and 100% of participants reported that they had changed at least one area of their behaviour around cooking and healthy eating, while 68 % had made changes in more than one area. All the participants reported feeling confident providing a healthy diet for themselves and their families.

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  • Projects like this work well when there are other projects running in the same area that can signpost and help with recruitment
  • in order to reach wider audiences and harder to reach groups, the 'course' approach might be changed for a series of drop in workshops that may attract people with limited skills or who do not have desire to take part in longer term course. This would reduce the expected impact of the course as such significant changes could not occur through shorter sessions. A mixture of both approaches would work well
  • It would also be recommended that a local venue is secured in advance

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