Pupils from Monmouthshire’s primary schools are learning how to create delicious meals for the whole family, whilst learning basic and safe culinary skills thanks to Angharad Underwood’s online Cookalong Clwb.
The Cookalong Clwb works with Monmouthshire’s primary schools, where families can sign up to get involved. On a weekly basis, Angharad, along with volunteers, provide a bag of ingredients, an apron and basic equipment to all participating families, with a recipe based around a hot meal. Receiving generous, fresh mixed fruit and veg boxes every week from Lidl, the Cookalong Clwb allows even more creativity and sharing of recipes.
Beginning in April 2021, the Cookalong Clwb promised to give children the opportunity to take the lead in the kitchen, allowing them to safely use kitchen equipment. What was originally meant to be face-to-face cooking in schools was halted by the pandemic, which didn’t stop Angharad. The Cookalong Clwb moved online and is becoming extremely popular with families in Monmouthshire’s primary schools.
Angharad provides hints and tips sheets, which can even benefit parents who are participating. These include tips like freezing fruit and veg to use at a later date, as well as preserving food and all that we can do to minimise food waste and maximise food taste.
Angharad told us: “During the first lockdown, my daughter Pip and I started a Monday Cookalong lunch club where we’d find recipes that we were craving, like a Greggs bake, and share them at 12pm on a Monday. We’d post the recipe and ingredients a couple of days before and people would cook with us and make their own lunch.”
Tags: Monmouthshire, School
“We had adults thanking us for teaching them and their children, which made us realise we had to share more. We had originally thought to do the Cookalong Clwb live in an after-school club, but actually, when hosting the Cookalong Clwb online, families cooking in their own homes is far more empowering and easy to fit in.”
Funded by the Welsh Government’s Food Security Grant, the Cookalong Clwb is only part of a bigger project that aims to provide Monmouthshire residents the opportunity to have access to fresh food and equipment. This funding has allowed the council to develop plans in developing community food growing spaces in the county. Furthermore, plans for more Community Fridges in Monmouthshire are being developed, being a volunteer-run organisation, which redistributes nutritious surplus food to the whole community, preventing good food from going to landfill.
Cabinet Member for Education, Councillor Paul Pavia, said: “It is fantastic to see pupils in Monmouthshire being taught these important life skills so early on. A project like the Cookalong Clwb could potentially open doors for these children’s futures. It seems they all have a great time cooking as a family, and I hope to see this project grow.”
Councillor Lisa Dymock, Monmouthshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing, said: “The Cookalong Clwb is an amazing project that offers the opportunity for children to be creative in their own kitchens. It is encouraging to see how much they enjoy both the cooking process itself and enjoying the fruits of their labours. Thank you to Angharad, and all volunteers that are involved in this rewarding project.”
St Marys RC, Thornwell Primary, the Dell Primary and Pembroke Primary school are just some of the schools which have taken part, with plans to reach more schools in Monmouthshire soon.
The council’s aim is to secure additional funding to make this project sustainable for the longer term and roll out across the whole of the county’s schools. The need is for many more volunteers in schools to come forward, so if you are interested in inspiring children in the kitchen, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.