The Healthy Living and Learning program works with people living in public housing in Kensington to target food insecurity and increase awareness of growing food, healthy cooking, and encourage the adoption of healthier lifestyle habits.
Each week participants learn cooking and gardening skills, food nutrition and enjoy a free nutritional two-course lunch with fellow residents. All meals are low cost to make and able to be replicated at home.
Accessing fresh food and cooking nutritious meals for those that live alone can be challenging. This is compounded if you’re on a low income, have mobility issues or are without transport. It can also be challenging to prepare meals that cater for medical dietary requirements eg high cholesterol and diabetes.
Lead by the Kensington Neighbourhood House, the program was first piloted in February 2017 with philanthropic funding from the State Trustees and support from Unison Housing, coHealth, Second Bite, 78 Seniors and Vincent Care.
The number of organisations involved in the program is one of its keys to success. It is also a great example of what can be achieved through collaboration. Each organisation brings their individual area of expertise or contribution which enhances the program.
Initially the program would attract about 20 people for lunch. We have on average close to 50 people attending each week.
As the numbers of participants grew so did the number of organisations involved in its delivery. Students from Kensington Community High School are now involved in the planning, shopping, preparation and serving of the food – improving their food knowledge, cooking and hospitality skills. We’ve also had students from Mount Alexander College involved. This has added an additional outcome of fostering intergenerational relationships between the students and older residents.
As the program grows, the number of great outcomes also grows. In the last eight weeks of the program 384 individual meals have been served. For those that live alone it provides the opportunity to eat a meal with neighbours once a week. Some participants have also made positive changes to their diet as they feel more confident cooking with fresh fruit and vegetables.
We’re really pleased to have secured funding from Uniting Care Hotham Mission and Unison Housing which will allow us to continue running the weekly lunches until the end of the year.
For anyone interested in attending the lunches please contact the Kensington Neighbourhood House on 9376 6366 for more information.