Grow Share Cook provides opportunities for households on lower incomes and those at risk of Type-2 diabetes to improve healthy eating and cookery skills in Plymouth, helping to address food insecurity and the accessibility of fresh food through the three steps of growing, sharing and cooking.
Working in partnership with Plymouth Community Homes, Plymouth City Council and Food is Fun CIC Tamar Grow Local is supplying fortnightly bags of 5 different seasonal fruits and vegetables which are sourced direct from growers and community growing projects in the Tamar Valley and in Plymouth. Outside of the local growing seasons, bags are supplemented with British produce bought from a local wholesaler. A recipe sheet designed around the contents are included with each bag to help encourage recipients to try out new and varied meal ideas.
As well as receiving fortnightly veg bags, recipients also take part in cookery sessions designed to widen cookery knowledge using local and seasonal produce and encourage recipients to eat fresh fruit and vegetables on a more regular basis. There are also a number of volunteer opportunities with the project for people to help growing food, delivering out the bags and delivering cookery sessions.
In February 2014, Plymouth applied to become a City of Service. Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York developed the Cities of Service model to encourage people in their communities to “do their bit” and to link the impact of volunteering to city priorities. Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, backed by the Cabinet Office, announced in 2013 that it wanted to bring Cities of Service to the UK. Local authorities were invited to bid for volunteering projects that addressed evidenced need in their area. Plymouth was successful in receiving funding over two years to deliver two specific projects – Energy Champions (to combat fuel poverty) and Grow, Share, Cook (to combat food poverty).
At the end of the 2015-16 round of Grow, Share, Cook:
- 23,360 meals were given to 1,611 people
- 85% of participants said they have a healthier diet
- 89% of participants said that Grow, Share, Cook has helped improve their cooking skills
- At the peak of the project, 100 families received free fortnightly fruit and veg boxes
- 216 pots and pans were donated by Plymouth residents in a pots and pans amnesty which were then redistributed to Plymouth residents in need.