Shopping and Cooking Classes for Families on a Tight Budget

In November, Wantage-based cooking social enterprise Maymessy will be a running a series of classes on food shopping and cooking on a tight budget for Wantage families affected by Coronavirus, thanks to a partnership with local charities, the Council and community groups. As it is adult training and education, Maynessy can run small groups with social distancing and COVID regs in place during lockdown 2.

Maymessy, Wantage Coronavirus Support Group, Ray Collins Charitable Trust and Sustainable Wantage have come together to support local families by providing much needed help on how to shop and cook on a tight budget. Wantage Coronavirus Support Group Ray Collins Charitable Trust and Sustainable Wantage will not only provide the link with the local families in need but also provide funding for the classes and food from The Mix food bank.

“As a qualified teacher with nutritional accreditation and a mother of twin girls, I know how food shopping and cooking for a family can be a challenge, especially when you’re on a tight budget or using a food bank. As a local community interest company, I wanted to Maymessy to help these families by providing a safe and comfortable space to learn these essential life skills,” said Anna Richards the founder of Maymessy. “During lockdown Maymessy supported the NHS Oxford with weekly deliveries to 96 Covid 19 special care staff. At the end of lockdown, we also collaborated with Ray Collins Charitable Trust to provide care packages to the staff of the John Radcliffe Children’s hospital. It was there that we had the idea that we could partner to provide support to local families in Wantage – providing our cooking expertise to the families using the Support Group.”

The Wantage Coronavirus Support Group have been working closely with local families over the last seven months supplying much needed bags of shopping and emergency electrical appliances. During this time, they have gained a better understanding of some people’s needs and identified that these classes would really make a difference.

“Shopping and cooking on a tight budget is never easy and in some cases can lead to friction and tension in the home so the Sustainable Wantage, Ray Collins Charitable Trust and the Coronavirus Support Group want to help out by organising cooking classes for parents and hopefully older children to learn new cookery skills together and how to plan and budget for meals,” said Ray Collins co-founder of the Wantage Coronavirus Support Group. “We are teaming up with Maymessy and Sustainable Wantage to supply transport, run the classes, supply ingredients, teach new skills, learn how to budget and cook meals to take home to the family and to have some fun. We all believe that if all the family can get involved in the shopping, planning, preparing and cooking of the meals then everyone will enjoy them more and create a stronger family unit.”

The classes are an amazing mixture of different funding and a good example of collaboration between different organisations in Wantage to support families in need. The partnership hope to extend the program of classes to help all 50 families supported by the Wantage Coronavirus Support Group.

“Our food waste reduction project The Mix Community Fridge has saved over 20 tonnes of edible food from being thrown away in the past 10 months and we love hearing all the fantastic and creative ideas people have to make great meals with the food they get from us” said Jo Harvey, Sustainable Wantage. “We’re really looking forward to working with Maymessy to help people enjoy preparing meals and make best use of the food available to them. With Ray Collins Charitable Trust’s support, we can provide transport to and from the cookery classes. We hope to be able to make these classes as accessible as possible to as many people as possible!”

Emma Revie, head of the Trussell Trust that supports FoodBanks, said “I hope we can find long term solutions that go beyond the school holidays.” These classes will enable these families do learn essential life skills.


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