NorthTec’s Community Cooking Initiative a Success
NorthTec’s hospitality tutor Sean Lynch has teamed up with local community providers and residents to cook a store of ready-made meals by the community for the community.
Volunteers from Raumanga Medical Centre and the Raumanga community joined Sean Lynch and Pam Locke, director of Its Up To You charitable trust, in the NorthTec training kitchens to cook up 80 meals which will be stored in the freezer at Raumanga Medical Centre and offered to everyone in the community to take home.
“It's not just for those that are struggling to put food on the table,” advises Pamela Locke. “Some people just need a helping hand, maybe they are sick, or had a long day, or haven’t had time to get to the supermarket. Having a precooked meal served at the end of the day can make all the difference.”
The collaboration helps teach locals how to cook easy and healthy food and this is the second time the group has come together. It is proving a success not only with those who receive the meals but also with those who are learning to cook them.
“We had two kaumatua join us the first time,” Pamela recalls. “They had never even been in the kitchen before, so they were learning all their skills from scratch. They had a fantastic time and are keen to come often to learn new recipes and help their community.”
One kaumatua was back again, wielding a knife with impressive skill for a beginner as he sliced open a pumpkin and scooped out the seeds. He was joined by Raumanga Medical Centre staff, a local mum whose young baby watched proceedings from her pram, and a couple who were so pleased with the food they had received from last month's cook-up that they came to offer a hand this month.
Sean Lynch was front and center, teaching everyone safe and useful cooking skills as they put together 80 meals between them. He teaches two different recipes throughout the lesson.
“They’ll put together 40 serves of a red meat dish and 40 serves of a chicken dish today,” Sean explains whilst demonstrating the safe way to chop veggies. “All the recipes are quick, easy, and healthy and can be done in bulk.”
The cooking classes use some ingredients grown in the Raumanga Community Garden, another local initiative. The rest is provided by NorthTec through Adult Community Education (ACE) funding.
“Hopefully, once the Community Garden gets up and running it will be able to supply us with all the fresh vegetables we need for the classes,” explains Sean. “It would be great to be completely self-sustainable in the long run.”
“People like to connect,” says Pamela. “The cooking classes also give people the ability to do that while paying it forward to the community. There’s no pressure to attend every lesson, you’re under no obligation to perform or contribute more time than you can or want to.”
It's hoped that the cooking classes will attract more and more people from the community who want to learn to cook and pay it forward to their neighbours.