At The Children’s Kitchen (TCK), we focus on encouraging children and families to explore, cook, and grow fresh produce in a hands-on way. It’s about making real food interesting and exciting. It’s a multi-sensory exploration of fresh produce, encouraging children to touch, feel, smell, and taste foods that they have often not seen or tried before. We are currently working in 16 early years settings across the city in areas where we know food insecurity is a challenge for families.

TCK is a city-wide Feeding Bristol and Bristol Early Years project which is focused on the areas of Bristol with the highest levels of food insecurity. The project’s core work is in nursery schools working with children under five, and their families. The Children’s Kitchen works alongside the FOOD Clubs which are run within the settings, using the same fresh produce that members receive, delivering cookery demonstrations, hands-on workshops and recipes. As a partner organisation in Bristol of the UK Government’s Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme – which is locally called ‘Your Holiday Hub‘ – we run hands-on sessions with children and families, produce recipe booklets and resources and sit on the steering group of the city-wide HAF programme to ensure that food quality and education is a key part of the Bristol approach. It is our innovative approach to food education on this programme that led to us winning the HAF Awards Regional Champions 2023.

Feeding Bristol has worked with Bristol City Council since 2019 which was the beginning of the collaborative, city-wide partnership working during the school holidays, working with corporate volunteers and donations to create lunch packs and meals for children across the city. The COVID-19 pandemic galvanised our partnership approach to food insecurity, and we looked at innovative ways to ensure children and young people were provided with nutritious meals during the school holidays. This included running food workshops within other HAF providers’ sessions, so that children and their families could create easy, quick, healthy, and nutritious meals together.

Being relaxed and explorative, we encourage children to try new foods with an open mind. Our hands-on sessions use fresh ingredients which give young people the opportunity to explore new flavours and cooking methods. The programme has further developed to address the multicultural needs of the city. We do this not only by providing recipes translated into multiple languages but also through our team of chefs, partners and collaborators who help to broaden the knowledge and celebrate the exciting and wonderful range of food cultures within the city.

All the recipe booklets are here: The Children’s Kitchen Recipe Booklets.

In addition, we have also been instrumental in leading a ‘train the trainers’ programme called Food Leaders, which we delivered free to HAF activity providers. This exciting course is run by us with Square Food Foundation, 91ways to build a global city, Travelling Kitchen, and Josh Eggleton and Adrian Kirikmaa’s School of Food at the City of Bristol College, and helps to address the need for trained people who can lead food education or community cooking sessions. The course focuses on batch cooking, food safety, cooking workshops in community settings, food culture and culturally appropriate food. The sessions have built confidence in the sector, which has, in turn, made positive steps towards the Food Equality Strategy and Action Plan. Food Leaders is soon to be available as a free digital course; to find out more you can send an expression of interest here.

We intend to build on the success of this partnership work by continuing to focus on bringing opportunities for children to have a positive start to food. In September we will start work with six more early years settings in Bristol and hope that we can increase our reach to older children and young people in the Southwest.

The HAF programme is a great opportunity to bring food education and healthy meals to children and their families across the city, as well as demonstrating the tangible impact that partnership working can make to people’s lives.

The Your Holiday Hub summer holiday 2023 food and activity programme for families in receipt of benefits related free school meals will be available to book soon here: Your Holiday Hub Bristol – Your Holiday Hub Bristol