OzHarvest has launched their community-based education program – NEST (Nutrition Education and Skills Training) to help tackle South East Queensland’s growing food insecurity by teaching adults easy cooking and healthy eating on a budget.
The Mount Gravatt Community Centre is one of the first organisations in Queensland to run the NEST program, which aims to increase life skills, provide nutrition education and strengthen community connections.
OzHarvest National NEST Program Manager, Nicole Constable, said the community response to NEST has been heart-warming. “People are still struggling with the economic impacts of COVID, with so many families turning to charities for support for the first time in their lives. NEST is a fun and interactive way to learn valuable skills that can make a big difference to families who need to make the most of their weekly budget. The team run a series of sessions that teach practical cooking skills using healthy and nutritious recipes – many of which cost less than $3.00 per serve! The feedback has been so positive with many enjoying the social connection as well as the cooking and eating!”
One of the first Queensland organisations to try the new program is Mt Gravatt Community Centre. Janene Strooband, Neighbourhood Centre Coordinator at the Mt Gravatt Community Centre shared what the program means for her clients. “We have a very diverse group of people undertaking NEST, including seniors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients, and people experiencing social isolation and loneliness. Seeing our community learn about how to make healthier choices, reduce food waste and stretch their budgets further is excellent. The knowledge and confidence they are building gives them freedom in food, from swapping ingredients and experimenting with new recipes, to learning new ways to make leftovers delicious. And they are excited to share what they are learning with their friends and family beyond the NEST cohort.”
NEST is delivered in community spaces or through charity organisations and is suitable for adults of all ages and cultural backgrounds, especially those with limited food preparation and cooking skills. The program is also inclusive and welcoming for parents who want to ensure they can provide healthy and affordable meals for their families. It covers a wide range of topics such as food groups, label reading, building healthy habits and includes learning to cook a variety of dishes and an ‘Everyday Cookbook.’ At the end of each session, everyone sits down to enjoy the cooked meal together, promoting community connections and boosting self-confidence.
NEST has been formally recognised as an evidence-based public health nutrition program that improves physical and mental health, and helps promote food security. It aligns with the Australian Dietary Guidelines and State and Territory Healthy Eating Strategies
NEST is now available in South East Queensland, charities or community groups can register their interest by visiting ozharvest.org/nest. Philanthropic funding is available to support charities where program delivery budgets are limited.