I don’t have a tin opener

can opener or tin opener

Shortage of equipment like tin openers is one of the many barriers we help Bags of Taste participants to overcome

Talking with our participants has been one of the most important things behind the success of Bags of Taste.  We’ve always been really interested in why they are not cooking – we’ve frankly surveyed the hell out of them (our pile of forms is almost 3ft high!!)

But, beyond that, it’s the individual conversations with the people that are struggling the most, that gives you the insights.  Picking out those people in a busy class with 30 people milling around is a skill that you learn… the people who don’t quite meet your eye, the ones that never buy the take-home ingredients bags despite enjoying the meal of what we’ve cooked.  Approaching them with compassion and empathy, talking to them about the struggles they’re facing, has helped us continuously improve our programme over the years.

This has not stopped with the virtual courses.  A Bags of Taste staff member is in all groups, and we monitor the interaction that’s going on between the volunteers and the participants.  I was in one such group last week.  One of the participants posted a picture of a pasta dish that didn’t look as red as it should have been.   I wondered what had he done wrong?  Until I saw his comment below:  “I don’t have a tin opener, so I had to use fresh tomatoes”.  He’d done his best because he knew that he needed to produce a dish, but couldn’t open the tin of tomatoes!

Shortage of equipment is a fairly common problem with our participants.  Usually it’s the lack of a sharp knife (this is why we give a free knife sharpener out with our virtual course ingredients bag).  It may be something as significant as lack of a cooker, but usually it’s the smaller stuff, which is more easily resolved.  In this case, I dropped by Mr. Sidhu’s house and gave him a tin opener.

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