School cooks top of the class in Lowestoft

COOKING up a storm in the kitchen, more than 70 children and adults from across Waveney were the first to try their hand at a new, lottery-funded project designed to improve their culinary skills.

The national Let's Get Cooking initiative got under way in Lowestoft last Friday as part of an inagural start-up day that saw pupils and teaching staff from 12 Suffolk schools cooking a range of hot and cold recipes.

The schools are among 46 in the county that have signed up to join the scheme, which seeks to establish a national network of healthy cooking clubs for children and parents, backed by �20m from the Big Lottery Fund.

Seventy two children and adults joined forces at Benjamin Britten High School in Blyford Road to start cooking and to learn how to organise food-related events within their own community.

The groups at last Friday's session – including pupils from Benjamin Britten, Dell Primary and St Mary's Roman Catholic Primary Schools in Lowestoft and Albert Pye Primary in Beccles – learned all the skills necessary to be able to cook, with apple crumble, smoothies, mackerel dip, cheese and chive dip, bean casserole and chicken and mango salad all making it on to their healthy menu.

And with organisers hoping to encourage all the youngsters to go back into their schools and set up their own after-school or school-time cooking clubs, the day was hailed a big success.

By the end of 2010, Let's Get Cooking, which is led by the School Food Trust, will have signed up 5,000 school-based cooking clubs, in a bid to teach new cooking skills to more than one million children, family and community members.

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With the dozen new clubs at last week's session taking the total number of schools across the East of England to join the scheme to 371, they are also the first to come forward as part of a national roll-out programme, which has seen more than 4000 schools across England join within its first three years.

All primary and secondary schools in the East of England were invited to sign up to Let's Get Cooking via its website on a first-come-first-served basis in May 2010.

Courtesy of a �20m grant from the Big Lottery Fund, the successful clubs will receive funding to buy cooking equipment, on-going advice and support from regional Let's Get Cooking specialists, and have access to free training and a range of resources.

The Big Lottery Fund's Well-being programme provides funding to support the development of healthier lifestyles and to improve well-being.

Annabelle O'Toole, regional club coordinator for Let's Get Cooking, said: 'It's brilliant that Suffolk schools are so keen to get cooking, and we are delighted that so many local schools signed up.

'Today (last Friday) is their Start-Up Day, which is the final of three training events we run for all our new clubs, with children, young people and adults cooking together for the first time. After today, they will be ready to begin their own club cooking sessions,' she added.

Mainly held outside school hours, Let's Get Cooking clubs give children and non-cooking parents of all ages the skills and confidence to cook nutritious and tasty meals from scratch.

The network of clubs complements the recent re-introduction of practical cooking onto the curriculum for secondary school pupils, as they also involve the wider community and encourage children and young people to cook at home and eat a healthy balanced diet.

For more information about Let's Get Cooking visit

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