Growing community cooking skills by transforming underused spaces into high-end kitchen cooking hubs

Skilled home cooks are able to make the most of their food, eat more healthily and make budgets go further, but in our increasingly busy lives convenience and takeaway foods are on the rise, while cooking is at risk of becoming a forgotten art.

Since 2018 we've partnered with NEFF, B&Q and Howdens Joinery to create 'Kitchen Love'; a campaign that transforms underused community spaces with an appetite for a cooking hub, into high-end kitchens where people can learn how to cook through access to free cooking classes which focus on healthy, delicious food on a budget. 

To date, four community kitchens in Leeds, London, Milton Keynes, and Suffolk have been created for people to access free cooking classes which focus on healthy, delicious food on a budget.  Kitchen Love is building communities around shared meals and is bringing together generations, backgrounds and flavours in a great melting pot. 

Meeting local demand

Every community is  unique, and  Kitchen Love  works through the host centre to  find out  what people want to learn.  In 2018, we ran  intergenerational classes where grandparents passed on their love of cooking to grandchildren after our research found that while 92% of grandparents consider it an essential life skill, 46% of them have never cooked with their grandchildren.

In Leeds and London in 2019, we focused on developing crucial life skills in adults of all ages.

The difference made

Free six-week cooking courses have provided in-depth learning for dozens of participants so far. In Suffolk and Milton Keynes, all the participants came away from the class feeling more confident cooking new foods and trying new things. All of the children who took part learned new skills, and 83% were more likely to eat a meal using fresh ingredients.

After our cooking class in London, 90% of the participants were more confident and 40% had reduced their food waste. 50% had started eating more vegetables by the end of the course and 70% of them had reduced their use of the microwave in favour of freshly prepared food.  

“The best thing about this class is that we cook together, and we learn tricks from other people." Carmen, participant.

The refurbished facilities have also attracted funding for further activities around great food, including a collaboration with a plant nursery to provide fresh, locally grown ingredients, and a course on budget cooking for young parents. They benefit hundreds of people every month, with activities from Fit and Fed sport and lunch sessions for children over the summer holidays, to weekly lunch clubs for isolated older adults.

The 2018 campaign generated 41 pieces of media coverage, 18 radio interviews and reached over 190,000 people through social media and online videos.

What's next?

Alongside our ambition to establish more community kitchens, we want to work with community spaces across the country to develop their potential as hubs for good food. Kitchens aren’t just a place to learn to cook – they can serve as spaces for learning to grow food, starting a small business or simply finding company and community over a warm plate.  

If your organisation could be part of the solution and you want to know how to get involved, please get in touch.

find out about collaborating with kitchen love 

NEFF has provided four kitchens with state-of-the-art appliances. Howdens Joinery fitted two kitchens in 2019, transforming run-down facilities into beautiful spaces to cook and learn. B&Q provided the kitchen fittings for two kitchens in 2018.