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Food Education at Chomp

At Chomp we tackle the ever growing issue of food poverty within Brighton and Hove. We do this by running lunch clubs during the school holidays where families on low incomes can come and receive a free meal whilst craft and play is available to them to interact with. 

Inclusive of what we provide, we feel that it’s important to promote education around food so that our families begin to have more options available to them. 

If children haven’t grown up with home cooked meals or with access to a variety of foods, then often, as adults they do not have the confidence to work with raw ingredients. We also live within a convenience culture where processed foods are cheaper than local fresh produce. 

Over the summer we began to look at different fruits and vegetables in ways which felt fun and accessible. We took the humble beetroot and dedicated a table to it where there were tasters of cooked and raw, whole beets to look at and cooked beets to cut up and print with. Beetroot is a versatile vegetable that can be used in both sweet and savoury cooking as well as being used as a natural dye for many years. A parent sitting at the table commented  ‘When I look at a beetroot like this, it’s scary.’  She was holding the whole raw beet. So we then began the conversation of how to handle and cook a raw beetroot. And conversations like this are invaluable. They may or may not be the catalyst for change, but they curate curiosity. They create space for new information to be received and begin to be digested. 

Playing games and working with food through art are also brilliant ways to foster familiarity with food. Many of us learn visually and working this way can create exposure without pressure. What is important to recognise is that we all have a relationship with food. We all have the history of how we were introduced to food and also the habits we create. Food is a product of nature, so through it we too are connected or disconnected to the natural world. The popular phrase of ‘eat the rainbow’ refers to the different nutrients we receive in relation to the colours of our food. Simple nutritional information that we may forget to share with our children and yet in doing so, we increase their awareness and scope for choice. 

Through our personal relationships with food, we create our beliefs and ethos around it. 

 Food education is a wide subject, with much benefit available to those given the opportunity to explore it. Chomp’s ethos is to carry on exploring this wide and wonderful subject with our families, whilst delivering fresh food, cooked from scratch during our holiday lunch clubs. Our families are given choice and encouraged to try new foods with facilities available to discard anything they don't enjoy. In this we hope to create an atmosphere that is welcoming, accepting, encouraging and non-judgmental around food. 

 We will keep having conversations that matter and championing the education that’s needed;  we wholeheartedly believe in making information accessible and supporting young people and parents to eat well. 

Rosie Blunden 2022

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