Families in Calderdale have been embracing a new initiative aimed at teaching them how to cook delicious and affordable meals. The Family Cook Clubs scheme, developed by Calderdale Council and funded by the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund, has been providing after-school cookery sessions for parents and carers in five schools across the borough.

The scheme, which ran for four weeks, offered parents and carers the opportunity to attend cooking and food skills workshops. The sessions took place twice a week and focused on teaching participants how to prepare low-cost and nutritious meals. The aim was to increase confidence in cooking and empower families to create their own meals at home.

The five schools participating in the program were St. Malachy’s Catholic Primary School in Illingworth, Ash Green Primary School in Halifax, Trinity Academy Akroyden, Deanfield Community Primary in Ovenden, and Warley Road Primary Academy in Halifax. To ensure the success of the initiative, staff at each school received training to deliver the sessions and demonstrate the recipes and necessary workshop skills.

Feedback from families involved in the scheme has been overwhelmingly positive. One parent stated, “It had a brilliant impact; my daughter is much more engaged when it comes to cooking and more involved.” These sentiments echo the sentiments of other participants who emphasised the positive effect the program had on their households.

The success of the Family Cook Clubs scheme has prompted Calderdale Council to explore further options to support families through the cost of living crisis. In partnership with the Community Foundation for Calderdale and local organisations, the council has been operating Healthy Holidays Calderdale since 2021. This program offers free activities and nutritious meals to children and young people during school holidays.

Families with school-aged children from Reception to Year 11, who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals, can now book a place in the summer Healthy Holidays program. This program provides a range of activities across the borough, accompanied by a nutritious meal for all participants. Bookings can be made through the program’s website at https://healthyholidays.calderdale.gov.uk/.

Cllr Sarah Courtney, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Towns, Tourism, and Voluntary Sector, expressed the council’s commitment to supporting residents during the cost of living crisis. She highlighted the success of the Family Cook Clubs scheme in providing advice and education on nutrition and affordable meals. Cllr Courtney stated, “The sessions were a great success, and we received some fantastic feedback from families taking part.”

Steve Duncan, CEO of the Community Foundation for Calderdale, emphasised the positive impact of the Family Cook Clubs. He said, “We are committed to helping improve the health of people in Calderdale, and these Family Cook Clubs provided families with skills for life enabling them to make healthier choices, plus they have been really fun and brought people together too.”

The Family Cook Clubs scheme received £8,291.39 in funding from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme, which started as a pilot in 2018, aims to alleviate the pressures faced by low-income families during school holidays. By providing free places for school-aged children eligible for benefits-related free school meals, the program supports children in accessing organised out-of-school activities and promotes better nutrition and physical health.

Calderdale Council’s commitment to reducing inequalities, tackling child hunger, and alleviating family poverty remains steadfast. As they continue to develop initiatives like the Family Cook Clubs and support the ongoing Healthy Holidays program, the council aims to make a positive difference in the lives of Calderdale’s residents.