New food and cooking course to improve health for people with disabilities

Main image courtesy of Square Food Foundation

Three Bristol charities have joined forces to deliver the first in a series of new food and cookery courses in Knowle West to help improve the diet and health of people with disabilities.

Local cookery school Square Food Foundation, Brandon Trust and Milestones Trust have started the new Healthy Me course – working with people with disabilities and those responsible for their care.

It aims to ensure everyone involved in daily meal planning, shopping and cooking has the same understanding of what is a healthy diet and has learned the same skills to achieve it.

The course, supported by NHS Bristol North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG), instills the principles of healthy eating – providing simple food preparation skills and supporting learners to make the connection between what they eat and their physical and mental health.

BNSSG CCG says poor diet is associated with negative health outcomes and this is especially evident among people with disabilities.

Director of Nursing and Quality at BNSSG CCG, Rosi Shepherd, says: “Maintaining a balanced diet may seem straightforward for many of us, but a lack of knowledge on how to cook and eat healthily for people with learning disabilities does have a negative impact on the risk of long-term health conditions and shortens life expectancy.

“This new initiative provides hands-on, simple steps to make healthy eating more enjoyable and part of an every-day routine for people with learning disabilities and their carers. We’re really excited to see this innovative new programme develop and benefit the lives of local people.”

Delivered by Square Food Foundation from its teaching kitchen at The Park in Daventry Road, learners will work together to cook a range of healthy dishes with a focus on fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and fibre. Along the way, they’ll gain practical and planning skills and key nutritional knowledge about maintaining a healthy diet.

Session topics will include knife skills, healthier baking, cooking with spices and breakfast ideas. At the end of every session, learners will take home a DIY recipe kit – with all the ingredients and instructions they need to cook a dish from scratch at home.  

Square Food Foundation Founder and cookery teacher, Barny Haughton says: “We know that people with disabilities are more at risk from poor health outcomes linked to diet, and that they often depend on other people for their shopping and cooking. By equipping people with LD and those that support them in their everyday lives with exactly the same skills and knowledge, we’re removing a barrier to better health.” 

The Healthy Me course starts on 6 May and runs once a week for 12 weeks. Each programme will have space for 12 learners – six supported people and their support workers. 

For more information on Healthy Me, visit www.squarefoodfoundation.co.uk/healthy-me