Local people share a slice of their love of food through their stories and healthy recipes, inspiring people to cook more at home for better health outcomes.
Food insecurity with hunger in Latrobe is significantly higher (6.6%) compared to Victoria (3.6%). In response to this growing issue, the local Food Security Coalition, known as Food For All Latrobe Valley, identified creating a community cookbook as a key action to help people learn how to cook healthy family meals, save money and support local food producers.
Cooking at home has declined for a number of reasons, including busy household schedules leading to less time to prepare meals, a greater number of food outlets, and an increasing variety of convenience foods in the supermarket. This free community cookbook aims to encourage families to cook together to increase cooking skills and knowledge. Cooking simple, healthy and affordable meals is good for your health, waistline and hip pocket. The recipes are easy to prepare and can be shared with family and friends, creating more time for social connections. There are plenty of tips provided for beginners and budding chefs alike.
A community cookbook like this allows everyone to show how food is part of their social connections as well as highlight the diverse cultures we have in the Latrobe Valley. The book contains 30 recipes and stories from local people. Members of the Moe Multicultural Group provided a diverse range of cultural recipes and a local Masterchef contestant happily contributed one of her favourite recipes! A Latrobe Community Health Service dietitian reviewed each recipe and contributors were invited to share a story about their recipe so others could learn to love the culture and tradition behind it. A Latrobe Valley-based graphic designer and printer were sourced to produce a visually appealing cookbook.
A launch event was held to celebrate local people, local stories and local produce. Representatives of the Latrobe Health Assembly, Latrobe Health Advocate, Latrobe Community Health Service and local community organisations joined in the event where guests enjoyed tasty dishes from the cookbook.
Ten thousand copies have been distributed across the Latrobe Valley, including at libraries, community centres, community gardens and local council facilities. Importantly, copies of the cookbook are also available at organisations that support those who are most likely at risk of food insecurity. Over 80 sites throughout the Latrobe Valley have received copies of the cookbook. Electronic versions of the cookbook are also available for download on several local organisation websites.
Locals can borrow the cookbook from five sustainable living libraries. The Latrobe City Youth Council promotes the cookbook through its ‘Fab Food Marvellous Mood’ campaign, and parents and carers of young children receive copies when they participate in mood and food workshops. The cookbook is one of 47 actions identified from the community led food security coalition, Food For All Latrobe Valley, working together to create a healthier and more food secure Latrobe. The community cookbook and Food For All Latrobe Valley are funded by the Latrobe Health Assembly as an initiative of the Latrobe Health Innovation Zone, and are supported by the Victorian Government.
Families have told us the recipes are tasty and simple to prepare, and they enjoy cooking recipes from people they know. You can also encourage families you work with to become a recipe for success by cooking together, eating together and creating family favourite, healthy recipes. We can all learn from passionate cooks and source fresh produce locally to create a sustainable local food system.