Building women’s confidence through cooking classes

The Zonta Club of Adelaide Flinders Inc and the Zahra Foundation Australia partnered for Food for Thought, which was developed to assist women who have suffered from violence to build up their social connections, confidence and ultimately their resilience. Through the program, women developed cooking skills and knowledge about nutritious and healthy eating for families and received insight into ways to achieve this in a financially viable way.

The program was supported by a US$3,000 grant from Zonta International. Project activities included:

  • Developing cooking sessions that were catered to the requirements of the women who were attending (i.e., nutritious cooking options for children’s lunches, cooking Australian food).
  • Working with the women over a three-week session (one day per week) in a hands-on approach and explaining elements of each session which included:
    • Importance of food and hand hygiene; occupational health and safety in the kitchen; role of managing gas, oven temperatures, usage of fire blankets (if required).
    • Providing copies of each recipe and describing each recipe that was going to be prepared , including ingredients and what substitutes could be used; how to store leftover ingredients.
    • Describing, demonstrating and assisting the women individually on how to prepare the ingredients for each recipe (i.e., cutting onions “without crying”; best way to use knives; measuring ingredients, etc).
  • A Zonta member was assigned to each participant to provide support and guidance during the preparation of each recipe.
  • At the end of each session, the women shared their experiences and tasted the food they cooked. Each participant was able to take their cooking home, which everyone greatly appreciated.

Eighteen women completed the course and were presented with certificates at a graduation ceremony attended by the Hon Carolyn Power MP, assistant minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention (South Australian State Government). At the ceremony, one of the participants presented the Zonta Club of Adelaide Flinders Inc with a certificate of appreciation and shared how her self-confidence significantly improved after taking the course.

A Food for Thought Cookbook was produced and given to the project participants, volunteers who supported the project, Power and other stakeholders. The cookbook includes recipes, photos and comments from the women who took the course. Comments include: “I feel safe here;” “This is my happy place;” “It is a supportive environment;” “I feel connected with more people;” “I have made lots of new friends;” “My kids love what I bring home;” and “Less isolation, great volunteers, friendly participants.”

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