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Sessions funded by Bendigo City of Gastronomy

Project Summary

Bendigo Foodshare’s Grow Cook Share Food Hub was successful in securing funding through Bendigo City of Gastronomy towards the following initiatives:

  • 4 x baking sessions with Bendigo TAFE Young Parents group.
  • Sponsorship towards meals for food relief workshops.
  • 15 Gastronomy branded aprons

A total of 7 Cooking for Change! sessions were delivered between July 2023 and March 2024, involving a total of 33 participants. There was a variation in the original proposal due to –

Sessions were tailored to best meet the needs of the different groups and participants.

  • The completion of the project was delayed due to two partner organisations unable to participate at the last minute.
  • An opportunity to partner with a project led by Healthy Loddon Campaspe resulted in an increase in the number of sessions delivered.

Below is a summary of the first 2 Cooking for Change! Keep an eye out for follwoing blogs detailing the rest of the sessions.

Social connection through Party Food

Bendigo Foodshare’s Cooking for Change! has worked with Bendigo TAFE’s teacher Cindy Grant for the past three years to involve her Young Parents and VCAL students in hands-on experience in the kitchen and in community service. Over this time, this has included –

  • Learning how to cook simple healthy meals in bulk, with the meals going home with the students, shared through the Tafe community, and donated into Bendigo Foodshare’s food relief program; and
  • Biscuit baking and decorating, which were sold at the Bendigo Sustainability Festival to generate revenue to invest back into the program.

For this round of Cooking for Change! sessions, Cindy was keen to consult with the students of the Young Parents group to find out how best to tailor the sessions to meet their needs and maintain their level of positive engagement. Being young parents of young children involves hosting children’s birthday parties and play dates – important events for these young people to feel socially connected and valued. As such, the students expressed a desire to learn how to make party food, so they could host these important occasions with confidence and pride.

The two sessions were designed to teach the students some simple savory party food recipes, as well as how to bake and decorate cakes. Recipes and ingredients were chosen with a focus on providing healthier options for party food, and that were fun to make for both parents and their young children.

Traditionally, Cooking for Change! sessions are focused on creating fresh healthy dishes. With the focus of these sessions on party food, group discussions were focused on the importance of a balanced diet, how ‘treats’ fit into a balanced diet, and how to choose healthier options for celebrations.

Herbs, vegetables and flowers were harvested from Golden Gums farm and local gardens, as well as sourced through Bendigo Foodshare. The group discussed growing fresh produce at home and how to adapt recipes and ingredients based on what is in season, most affordable and in the fridge or pantry. There was also a strong focus on food safety, hygiene and working safely in the kitchen.

Tailoring these sessions to the young parents’ stage of life meant the significance of these sessions extended beyond developing cooking skills, to include building confidence in hosting their own parties to ensure social inclusion and connectiveness.

Each 5 hour session was busy and full, however students were thoroughly engaged and worked hard throughout the sessions. They were delighted by the result of their creations and to learn new ideas for producing home-made party foods for special occasions and simple decorating techniques to delight children of all ages!

At the end, each student was gifted with an insulated lunch bag and a potted herb to grow at home.

Session 1 – Party Food: Garden Focaccias & Savory Pastries

Two Young Parents and six VCAL students from Bendigo TAFE spent this Cooking for Change! session learning how to make colourful garden focaccia bread, puff pastry savories and sausage rolls, all full of herbs and veggies. They learnt how to use fresh herbs and vegetables, developed dough making and baking skills and worked together as a team to serve lunch to others in Bendigo TAFE community.

Making the garden focaccia taught the students the valuable and versatile skill of making dough, which can be also used to make bread or pizza and is fun to make with children. Students were free to experiment and have fun using the dough and sheet pastry to design their own focaccias and savory puff pastries in different shapes and with different toppings, which resulted in colourful and delicious creations.

The students then made 100 sausage rolls that were filled with grated veggies and provided the opportunity to practice bulk cooking. The sausage rolls were then shared with the broader TAFE community for lunch.

Session 2 – Birthday Cake Baking and Decorating

In this Cooking for Change! session three young parents together and four Senior VCE VM students from Bendigo TAFE continued to develop their party baking skills. Students cooked Millie Feuille (cream slices) with chocolate and lemon feather icing, along with small cupcakes with a range of different icing techniques. Students learnt to make glace icing, piping bags, feather icing. Cupcakes were decorated using fondant, butter icing and fresh flowers.