Our Mentored Home Cooking courses have multiple stages to engage the participants at different stages of their journey. Changing diets is not an easy task, nor is there a “quick fix”. The long term engagement that we provide is key to maintaining the impact of the courses and embedding healthy eating as a habit.
Stage 1: recruitment
Bags of Taste Mentored Home Cooking courses start with having the right people on the course. We are interested in people that have consistently and repeatedly failed to improve their diets, and who are on a low income.
We work with a range of local organisations and charities to identify the participants, including the NHS and public health, social prescribing, and organisations tackling mental health, addiction, social isolation, disability both physical and mental, and other vulnerable adults. We do not market as a healthy eating course but rather a cheaper way of eating the kind of “takeaway style” food participants enjoy – “Cook Better Than The Takeaway” is our motto.
Stage 2: the Mentored course component
Once identified, the participants are allocated a mentor and delivered a free bag of ingredients containing the food for 7 meals, and a knife sharpener. Participants cook 3 of 8 foundation recipe options with peer and mentor support, and full staff supervision. We mentor the participants via our network of trained mentors, including many trained and fully qualified graduate nutritionists and food teachers.
This component of the course lasts around 2 weeks and the participants only need a basic phone, but many people do the course via WhatsApp.
We typically see around an 80% completion rate for this first part.
Stage 3: Follow-on component
Participants who complete the first part are sent “follow on” recipes that are tied into what they have already successfully cooked. Our evaluations after 6 months show that almost 70% of students go on to cook these recipes, with a further 10% still cooking the original 8 recipes they learned from the course.
There is no digital requirement for this component as the recipes are posted to them in hard copy.
Stage 4: Long Term Support groups
One of the very common requests we have is that participants “wish the course could have been longer”. Therefore we have focussed very much on supporting participants as they carry on with their cooking. We have two groups on WhatsApp and one on Facebook which share further £1 recipes, allow students to connect with each other and ask questions, and provide cooking inspiration, videos and tips.
These groups are very active with around 1,500 members, and contain specially developed recipes, videos and other unique content. 62% of participants that receive the follow on recipes go on to join the long term support groups and many students have been there for many years, still active and sharing their cooking journey.
To see some of the wonderful feedback we’ve received from participants of this course click here