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Impact of Food Poverty social media project - Yoshi's story

For our impact of Food Poverty social media project we asked people at the Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society cooking classes to give their views on what holds them back from eating a healthy diet.

Yoshi volunteers at the cooking classes every Monday evening. People on low incomes attend the classes and get the chance to learn how to cook healthy, nutritious food at an affordable price. 

Here’s what Yoshi had to say: 

Before I moved to London almost three years ago, I managed my family small holdings business in Japan where I grew organic vegetables and also I worked as a chef at our local restaurants and hotels. 

Healthy eating means a lot to me, it not only keeps your body healthy, it keeps your mind healthy as well. 

For instance, if you have a good well balanced breakfast in the morning that will set you up for a whole day. It will give you energy and a positive attitude to tackle any kind of day you might have - busy, stressful or physically challenging day.

I also believe having a good breakfast is very important for growing children. In Japan, I became a Shokuiku (food and nutrition) advisor and taught children how and why you need to eat healthy food.   

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be expensive. It’s all about knowing what to eat and how to prepare them.  There was a time when I had to manage on tight budget raising two children on my own as a single mum. 

I was lucky, I had my own organic vegetable farm where I could just go at the end of the day to pick ingredients for our dinner. That is something which is almost impossible here in London, but if we had a small community garden or even a small balcony, you could always grow your own vegetables in a container.  

There are many Japanese foods that I miss here in London, but most things you can buy them here, but it is very expensive! I try to make do with things I find at our local supermarket and use alternative vegetables. 

I volunteer at the Lifeafterhummus classes where we teach people to cook, cheap and nutritious food.

At the Lifeafterhummus classes, I was surprised to see so many young people attending our class, all very enthusiastic and keen to learn about how to cook and eat healthy. Also it is great to see people from different countries join in as well. 

We introduce different kinds of vegetables as well as ingredients that you might not be familiar with, but our participants are always very keen to try and it is great to see them enjoy their new discoveries. 

Free food we get from the Felix Project also challenges us with what not to waste and this, for me, is very interesting and also fun. I hate wasting vegetables as I know exactly how they are grown and how much effort has been taken by the farmers to supply to the general public. 

For instance, there are many ways of using ripe tomatoes which can’t be sold in the supermarket, I like to freeze them and use it instead of a tin tomato for my pasta sauce. 

As a Shokuiku (Food and Nutrition) advisor, which basically means I taught children how vegetables are grown and how to cook them and about healthy eating. I gave workshops around the farm as well as schools and it was very rewarding.

I do not know how food and nutrition are taught in this country but I believe teaching children at an early stage is very important for their health and well-being and it’s quite amazing what kids can teach their parents about healthy eating.  

It would be great if there were more places to teach children and their parents how to eat healthy. For instance, school lunch in Japan is not just where and when the children eat their lunch, it’s also a learning process.

They are taught about ingredients as well as nutritional values and how they are cooked and also because lunches are cooked on the premises and served in their classrooms, they clean and serve and learn about personal hygiene and how not to waste food.

Parents are invited to taste as well and if you can’t afford to pay school lunches (cost about £1.50 per lunch) you could always apply for free lunches. All the primary schools around the area where I come from had their own kitchen staffed with qualified nutritionist and cooks. I believe education is very important, perhaps what we do in Japan could be done here to see if it works?

It would also be great if there were more places like Lifeafterhummus where people can be taught how to cook healthy on a tight budget. There are so many ways of eating healthy and delicious food without spending loads of money. You only need to know how and that is why I love volunteering at Lifeafterhummus.  

If you are interested in volunteering like me, or want to learn about healthy eating, please contact Lifeafterhummus Community Benefit Society at info@lifeafterhummus.com