Edinburgh Community Food (ECF) AGM

ECF logoOn 23rd March ECF once again managed to make their AGM interesting and inspiring. Interesting in telling us about the breadth of the work they are delivering and inspiring by illustrating the impact their food work across Edinburgh has on those who take part in their range of activities.

Manager Ian Stewart introduced the meeting by referring to the shocking statistics announced that morning on TV and in the press and media that 52% of children in the UK don’t have vegetables on a daily basis and that 42% don’t have fruit. Clearly establishing the importance of the work they do with families across Edinburgh.

Chairperson Debbie Adams spoke of the challenges faced by those working in the charitable sector and the importance of tackling poverty and health inequalities. She told us of the strategic approach taken by the Board of the organisation and how they link to the Health Inequalities Priority Framework. A regular recipe slot in the local Evening News newspaper ensures that good advice on cooking and use of fresh produce, available from ECF, reaches a wide audience.

Staff took us through their different work programmes with presentations on Food Poverty, and the rising demand for food banks; Food Waste, which we were told costs the average Scottish household over £400 per year. Staff also provided practical demonstrations of their work on the Eat Well Plate, Fibre, Salt, Sugar and Fat as used in workshops with local participants. Interestingly although many in attendance were professionals with a specific interest in food it seemed there was still something for each of us to learn! Do you know how many grams of fibre you should include in your diet each day or what you would eat to reach it? – a much neglected section of the food labelling grid on packages.

When it comes to impact we were provided with two presentations which showed the difference ECF makes to people’s lives. The first from Student on 10 week placement Nicola Murray provided us not only with information about her work around fibre in the diet but she spoke of what she had gained personally. “I never could have done this before I started, I have gained in confidence as well as knowledge by working alongside staff in ECF”

Then mother of three Judith McLean told us that going along to cooking classes after the birth of her third child had changed her life. Not only does she now actively like cooking, she attributed the lesser experience of post-natal depression on this occasion to the increased social connection she had with other mothers through the cooking course. Judith since completing her cooking course has changed her eating habits, reducing her meat intake by using more pulses, she wastes less food by careful meal planning and is more knowledgeable about using left overs, she has lost weight, she knows how to involve her ‘fussy eater’ child in cooking preparation which means they are more likely to eat meals. Consequently cooking is now her hobby and her new career since she has set up a new business Crafty Cooks which focusses on involving children from two and a half to eight years old in the joy of cooking.

A further key impact the member of staff attending this event is now eating salad regularly for lunch putting in place her new found knowledge of the importance of fibre in our diets – a much neglected section of the food labelling grid on packages!

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