How it began

With us already operating a cookery class businesses Cook Stars Limited (a children's cooking class franchise) we realised we were in a really great position to be able to help!

In-house we are often involved with recipe development and costing recipes. We have the specialist programmes, the means and know how to be able to write, design and print recipe cards, produce nutritional and allergy information and make easy to follow cookery tutorial videos for people. We felt we were well placed to be able to help people transform the ingredients that are typically provided at food banks into filling meals.

We visited food bank and were provided with food lists of what people are typically provided in a food parcel. A person or family is given a quota of foods. For example, they might be given an amount of 'meat' (this could be tinned hotdogs, tinned stewed chicken, corned beef, spam etc), as well as portions of 'vegetables' (this could be tinned carrots, sweetcorn, mushrooms, peas etc) and rice / pasta etc.

The food parcels are designed to incorporate the main food groups as is best possible by using tins, dried foods and non-perishable foods. Depending on what donations have been given to the food bank, it is a lottery as to what someone will be provided with. We were told that there are some ingredients that some people were not sure how to use (chickpeas was one example given) and often foods are eaten as they come rather than used together to form into meals. This is all very understandable, but we wanted to help people eat the best they could - which we knew would be possible with a few tweaks.

Why We Started

Recipe Cards

The Fed Line Project's founder Cathy bought a large selection of the tins, dried foods and non-perishable foods that people at food banks are typically given. For 2 weeks as a family they ate meals made up of the foods provided in food parcels. The food banks we'd been speaking to did not provide fresh ingredients. Cooking without fresh ingredients is hard. Cooking exclusively with ingredients provided in tinned, dried and non-perishable form is very limited.

'Fed' is what is important when people are in this situation, but we wanted to have a go at making the best creative use of the ingredients people would be provided with. After experimenting, we came up with 20 recipes and produced recipe cards. The majority of the recipes make use of (tinned) fruit and vegetables and have a decent balance of food groups. The main priority was making sure the meals are filling, hearty, quick and easy to cook. People now use these recipe cards to cook independently using typical ingredients provided at food banks.

To raise enough money to get The Fed Line Project underway Cathy 'ran/hobbled' through a sponsored 40-mile ultra-marathon. With everyone's kind donations, we were able to purchase 20,000 recipe cards. We distributed thousands of recipe cards through food banks within the first few months and they have been very well received by the people using them as well as the organisations distributing them. This feedback encouraged us that this service is helpful and providing value so we set about developing our project further.

Why We Started

Ingredients Tool Kits

It is not easy to produce tasty meal solely from what is provided in a typical food parcel. We identified that if people had access to a few basic ingredients (that are not provided at food banks) they could pull together decent meals. Salt, pepper, some basic herbs and spices, sauces make all the difference and can really help to make complete meals. Fresh ingredients would really help, but the meals we created assumed the worst case scenario that no other food was possible.

Knowing a few additional ingredients would help transform bland food into much more enjoyable meals, this gave us the idea of our 'Ingredients Tool Kits'.

These are reusable shopping bags filled with cookery basics such as oil, herbs, spices, condiments, sauces. We also add onions and garlic where possible because so many good recipes start with these 2 ingredients, and they have a long shelf life. Our Ingredients Tool Kits are provided to each participant at our sessions so they have these at their disposal to help create more enjoyable meals at home.