Leading food rescue organisation, OzHarvest has relaunched NEST (Nutrition Education and Skills Training) to help tackle Australia’s growing food insecurity by teaching adults easy cooking and healthy eating on a budget and expanding the program into local communities. Ronni Kahn AO and Ambassador Kylie Kwong joined participants from not for profit organisation, Ability Options for a special NEST session in Alexandria to mark the start of the new program.
Following an in-‐depth review and input from leading universities, OzHarvest redesigned NEST to align with Australian Dietary Guidelines and State and Territory Healthy Eating Strategies. The new program has been formally recognised as an evidence-‐based public health nutrition program that can help to promote food security.
OzHarvest Founder & CEO, Ronni Kahn AO said innovation has been a huge part of the NEST program which aims to improve nutritional literacy, increase social connections and life skills of adults from vulnerable backgrounds. “The original idea for NEST came from talking to the charities we support, as they loved the rescued food but were not always sure how to cook it! What started as simple cooking program has now evolved significantly as a robust and effective public health program with proven impact. By teaching people how to cook healthy food at low cost, we can improve mental and physical health and food security.”
Renowned chef and restauranteur, Kylie Kwong is lending her support as the NEST ambassador highlighting the benefits for the community. “I fundamentally believe that good nutrition and basic cooking skills are essential life skills everyone should have. NEST is a wonderful initiative in educating how to cook easy recipes with fresh ingredients that are also budget friendly. Making good food accessible to everyone, encouraging people to eat more fruit and veg and avoiding food waste are a must in my book.”
One of the first organisations to try the new program is Ability Options Sydney. Julia Squire CEO said NEST is one great way to improve essential life skills.. “We are delighted to be able to work with OzHarvest and include NEST as part of our Work Ready Service, as a fun and interactive way to provide nutrition education and cooking skills. Having the knowledge to shop economically and the confidence to prepare nutritious and varying meals also assists people to gain independence. Thanks to City of Sydney we have been able to put 7 participants through the six week program.”
NEST is open to adults of all ages and cultural backgrounds, especially those with limited food preparation and cooking skills, also 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 (which cost less than $3.00 per serve) and a new photo-‐based ‘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 is free of charge to individuals signing up for available programs in Canberra, Sydney, and Melbourne. Program funding can also deliver a number of 6-‐week NEST programs across the ACT and within the LGAs of City of Melbourne and City of Sydney. Community group bookings (6-‐15 people) can also be made at ozharvest.org
NEST is currently available in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne. With plans for Adelaide, Brisbane, regional QLD and NSW if funding can be secured. Current NEST supporters include: ACT Government, John James Foundation, City of Melbourne, City of Sydney, RACV and AON.
To find out more or support NEST, please contact Elisha West at [email protected]
Watch NEST in action here:
1 Australian Government National Foo’d Waste Strategy_Nov 2017
2 National Food Waste Baseline Report 2019
5 FoodBank Hunger Report 2020