24 June 2024

Introducing Hackney School of Food




Iveta Senasiova

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The Hackney School of Food is having a hugely positive impact in our community, in an essential area of all our lives – nutrition.

The Benyon Estate is delighted to see that children and adults in Hackney are learning about food through the work of this community interest company, set up just a year ago and already making a difference to the lives of local people.

Zoe McIntyre, Hackney School of Food’s General Manager, says the idea behind the project is to make healthy delicious food from scratch and learn about where food comes from, something fun and accessible for everyone.

With a garden to grow vegetables, the children can have a full “seed to spoon” experience, picking their ingredients, preparing and cooking them, all on site at Mandeville Primary School, Hackney, where the School of Food is based.

Zoe said: “Improving health and well-being through cooking is a challenge for some people in our community, where access to good food, somewhere to cook it, and the skills needed to prepare it, are not always available.

“Food education is part of our school curriculum, but with stretched education budgets and a lack of facilities, sadly not all schools can deliver this, so we provide that service. We work mainly with primary school children and we find that if you introduce them to the experience of cooking and tasting nourishing, fresh food at a young age, it stays with them for life.”

Hackney School of Food hosts classes in its kitchen of up to 30 children at a time from schools across the borough, some of whom have little experience of food-growing or cooking from scratch.

The School of Food also helps adults who need help with food education and cookery skills and provides opportunities for people from different ethnic backgrounds to prepare food from their own cultures.

“The enjoyment of food is a universal language that has the power to really bring people together and create a sense of belonging.

We see it every day in people who come to our kitchen,” Tom, the Chef Educator, said.

Hackney School of Food was founded by a partnership between the LEAP Federation of Schools and the charity Chefs in Schools and is run by a small but passionate team of staff including gardeners and food educators.

A disused caretaker’s house on the site of Mandeville Primary School was developed to create a bespoke kitchen space which has won lots of awards for its architectural innovation. The kitchen garden outside includes planters at different heights to allow both children and adults to plant and harvest culinary herbs and food produce to use in the kitchen. There is also a wood-burning pizza oven, chickens and bee hives, a fruit tree orchard and lots of wildflower beds.

It is good to know that our community has this facility nearby, focussing on such an important part of life. Here at The Benyon Estate we wish them well.

Donating to the Hackney School of Food allows them to provide subsidised cooking lessons to school children and vulnerable adults across Hackney and beyond. You can follow this link to donate. Hackney School of Food.

Photos copyright © The Hackney School of Food // Jim Stephenson