BCYF’S Youth Services team is increasing access to nutritious food for some of our community’s most vulnerable members, through its innovative Feed Me Right project.
Feed Me Right aims to increase access to healthy food and improve health education for young people aged 16-25 experiencing homelessness, through the delivery of interactive cooking classes and the development of food start-up packages for young people entering accommodation.
The initiative received an $8000 grant through the Give Where You Live Foundation’s Feed Geelong grants, announced in November.
With food insecurity a growing issue in the Geelong region and the significant impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, BCYF Manager Youth Services Mandy Baxter said the funding would have meaningful short term and long term impacts.
“Within BCYF Youth Services, we work with young people to develop their independent living skills, to set them up for a healthy future,” Ms Baxter said.
“Through Feed Me Right, we have an opportunity to change the way these young people view food, and offer food knowledge that they otherwise may not have experienced before.”
Feed Me Right will see young people be provided with nutritional food packs relevant to the cooking facilities they have access to. These will be tailored to emergency accommodation, crisis accommodation and transitional accommodation.
“When the most pressing issue for people who are homeless is just finding a meal, nutrition is a secondary consideration,” Ms Baxter said.
“When they can afford to buy food, it is often food high in fat, salt and sugar, contributing to longer term health implications; some of the cheapest food available is also some of the unhealthiest. By providing food packages, young people will have the basics they require to prepare nutritious meals.”
The online cooking classes will be offered as an opt-in resource for young people to further develop cooking skills and healthy food preparation habits. These classes will be developed and delivered by the BCYF Youth Services team, which includes a qualified chef, and will see participants join in a Zoom session to prepare one meal per session.
This interactive program will encourage young people to ask questions and have fun with healthy food, while learning nutritional information and basic cooking skills they do not currently possess. The funding will enable BCYF to purchase the food supplies required for the young people to take part.
“It is widely recognised that food insecurity has detrimental effects on individuals, families and the community as a whole,” Ms Baxter said.
“Feed Me Right is aimed at preventing longer term health implications as well as addressing short term needs for food.”