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Food Wise
A Christian based charity delivering food provision, training and education to local communities
By Martin Vodden on 30/12/15 | Category - Food

If you had asked me at the beginning of 2015 what were my goals for the coming year, establishing a new charity wouldn’t have been on my radar. And yet, here I am at the end of the year, the Chairman of FoodWise TLC explains Martin Vodden.


Coming from a Christian faith background that instilled a strong desire in me to serve and help others, the following social issues created the impetus to set up FoodWise TLC.


Food Poverty on the Rise

For some time now I have been concerned at the levels of food poverty being reported in the UK media. Even in the leafy suburbs of Surrey there has been a massive rise in the number of people turning to food banks for help in a crisis. I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. Evidence suggests that turning to food banks is a strategy of last resort. People are often too proud to seek help unless it is absolutely necessary. I hear stories of children going to bed hungry and to school without breakfast, which we know, not only affects their health, but also their ability to learn. School holidays offer little relief, as it just means an extra family meal to find on an already restricted budget.


Loss of Basic Cooking Skills

The skills needed to cook food from scratch or use up leftovers have been declining over three generations. Although many of us have become more reliant on convenience foods and ready meals, retail analyst Kantar Worldpanel reported that home-cooked foods have declined most sharply among the poorest members of society tempted by promotions and cheap food – "feeding the family on a special offer convenience meal seems a cheaper alternative to preparing a more complex, multi-ingredient freshly cooked meal.” There are very few opportunities for people to improve their basic cookery skills. Broadening the range of low cost meals someone can cook leads to better eating habits and financial savings for them.


Importance of Social Support Networks

Psychologists report that emotional support is an important factor for dealing with life’s difficulties. Having strong social support can actually make people more able to cope with problems on their own, by improving self-esteem and sense of autonomy. Any type of shared activity is a great way to get to know new people. It’s much less intimidating to build relationships in a relaxed environment over a period of several weeks. Partnering with voluntary groups and agencies creates on-going support structures, which are both accessible and sustainable.


I realise that the underlying causes of food poverty are complex and FoodWise TLC can’t solve them all. FoodWise TLC embraces the widely accepted principle of "Give a man a fish, you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime”. Our free cookery courses enable people to prepare and cook simple inexpensive food that is healthy and tasty to eat. Every course is tailored to the needs of the group, so the level of assistance varies depending on the existing skills of participants and any special dietary needs that they may have. Everyone gets to take home the meal they prepare, so that’s one less meal to find during the week. And in amongst the learning there’s lots of social interaction, which we hope not only helps to build self-confidence, but lasting support networks. 


If you would like to find out more about our work or are interested in running a course within your community please contact me: or 07768 005155.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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