On the ground in Australia, we run Jamie Oliver’s not-for-profit programs to keep cooking skills alive at our centres across the country. Our cooking program is proven to make positive behaviour change in the communities most vulnerable to diet-related disease.
Jamie’s Ministry of Food Australia is a grassroots response to the lack of basic food skills in adults. By teaching people to start cooking for themselves again and equipping them with some simple skills and knowledge they are empowered to live healthier, happier lives. Our cooking courses teach people about everything involved with bringing a healthy, delicious meal to the table from how to shop (labelling, budgeting, meal planning) to how to store and keep food safe, how to save time and be safe in the kitchen by learning cooking techniques and knife skills, all the way through to recommended portion sizes and sharing and passing on the skills to friends and family.
Over the past few years, we have worked closely with community groups including Diabetes NSW, Mens Shed and Aftercare, disability groups and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to share the love of cooking to increase confidence, knowledge and skills in the kitchen with those that need it the most.
And it works!
Not only have we been awarded VicHealth’s Award for ‘Best Healthy Eating Program’ but our courses have also been independently evaluated twice by Deakin University and The University of Melbourne proving that participants of Jamie’s Ministry of Food eat more vegetables, cook more and eat less takeaway after completing the course. You can read the evaluation for Queensland here and for Victoria here.
Indigenous health and the pilot program
In 2015, Jamie’s Ministry of Food visited its first ever indigenous community in Cherbourg, Queensland. Indigenous Australians experience a higher rate of chronic disease (over 70% of Indigenous Queenslanders are overweight or obese) and a lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians.
With community consultation, the program was developed to ensure the course provided skills, tips and shortcuts that were relevant to the location. We welcomed 186 participants on board the Mobile Kitchen, all of whom were eager to learn new ways to cook and prepare healthier food for friends and family. After they completed the course, they felt their confidence to cook meals at home and to try new foods had grown, evaluations showed that after completing the 5 week program, participants shared what they learnt in the program and cooked more meals at home.
Diabetes New South Wales (NSW)
In Australia, more than 1.7 million people have Diabetes and it is the fastest growing chronic disease. We’re working with Diabetes NSW to teach 17-25 year olds with type 1 diabetes, who are in the process of moving out of home, how to cook healthy, fast and delicious meals. Following classes, participants’ confidence grows, not only from learning new kitchen skills but in their food choices and meal planning as well. Next up we’re welcoming groups of type 2 diabetics to help teach them about real food and how cooking from scratch and knowing what they are eating can help them maintain their diabetes.
Our programmes show that getting hands on with food and learning to cook is a practical solution to the problems of obesity and diet-related disease and a successful response to the lack of basic food skills in the community. Working in the communities that need it most, we’re providing participants with the tools and information they need to make better food choices and begin their own Food Revolution.
Read more about Ministry of Food in Australia here.