As part of a UK-wide scheme run by the Soil Association members of Hand In Hand Activities CIC
are getting together this autumn to share food, get to know people and learn cooking skills.
Launched this year, the Cook and Share event is part of Food for Life Get Togethers. Other annual
events include the Eden Project Communities Big Lunch and Plant and Share Month each spring.
Anyone can take part in Cook and Share Month from Oct 16th to Nov 16th, and at least 400 local
events are expected to take place across the UK. From Billingham to Yarm,
people will be cooking and, you guessed it, sharing food in their local communities.
Preparing and eating food is a great way to bring the community together and make new friends and
connections. Organisers are encouraging people from all walks of life to take part. Community
groups, schools, children’s centres, faith groups and more will be getting busy in the kitchen and
sharing food with each other and their local area. This will be done both remotely and in person,
where it’s safe to do so.
Last month the community of Stockton on Tees came together to celebrate Oktoberfest and this week came together to share soup and crumble. Alison Watson-Shields, event organiser, said: “It was a fantastic opportunity to expose people to and share food that we may not normally enjoy on the theme of Oktoberfest. Everyone really enjoyed the meal which included a main course, a dessert and alcohol-free beers and wines.”
It is completely free to become part of the National Lottery funded Get Togethers community and all
the resources a community group needs are on the website and Trello board.
So why should we share our food?
Research has revealed that the more often people eat with others the more likely they are to feel
happy and satisfied with their lives. Yet this year we have seen loneliness rise, exacerbating social
problems that were already there. (University of Oxford, 2017. Link: https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2017-03-16-social-eating-connectscommunities)
The Office of National Statistics has published a report saying that loneliness in adults has increased
during the pandemic by almost a third. From October 2020 to February 2021, results from the
Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) showed that 7.2% of the adult population (about 3.7 million
adults) felt lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’. This is an increase of 1.1 million people since the first UK
lockdown in 2020. (ONS, 2021. Link:
Many people have become more isolated as a result of social distancing measures, which can have
negative effects on mental and physical wellbeing. Holding a Food for Life Get Togethers activity is a
tried and tested way for people to reconnect with others in their local communities, through good
Helen Browning, CEO of the Soil Association says: “The month is about using the power of great
food to bring us together. At the Soil Association, we know that food has got to be good for us, and
good for nature and the climate too.
“It has never been more important to create meaningful connections. We have seen over the past
year that feeling connected to others is absolutely essential to good health and wellbeing. Food is
one of our best ways to unite across barriers – whether that’s the garden fence, cultural or
“We are quite disconnected at the moment in the UK, but we can do something about that. We can
get cooking, and get sharing!”
How can people take part?
Anyone can sign up for free on the website. There are a range of resources available, helping
organisers to cook easy, healthy recipes from scratch. Choose your favourite, from an Eritrean Daal
to a simple, seasonal soup. Find the perfect recipe.
After a year of isolation and worry, it is more important than ever that we connect with the people
around us. Whether you’re dishing up daal, sharing a sarnie or passing round the pasta, food is a
great way to break down barriers and bring people together.
For more information:
Food for Life (FFL) is a Soil Association initiative which began in 2003 and developed into an awardwinning national programme to transform school food culture. Today, Food for Life continues to
develop approaches to transforming the food environment and food culture to improve health and
wellbeing for everyone, whoever and wherever they are. Through work with early years settings,
schools, universities, hospitals, workplaces and care settings, the initiative aims to support the
provision of nutritious, well-sourced meals as well as practical knowledge and skills. Food for Life is a
leading voice in the campaign for positive change in all areas of food and health. Food for Life is
endorsed by Henry Dimbleby’s 2021 National Food Strategy.
Food for Life Get Togethers (FFLGT) are part of a bigger movement, led by the Soil Association, to
make good food the easy choice for everyone. FFLGT’s vision is a world where people of different
ages and backgrounds regularly connect, learn and play a more active role in their local food system.
The programme is funded for 4 years by The National Lottery. They have just entered their third
To find out more visit www.foodforlife.org.uk/get-togethers / @safoodforlife
The National Lottery Community Fund is the largest community funder in the UK and proud to
award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, they have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion
to projects that have benefited millions of people.
The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to
promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment.
Today the Soil Association is the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane
and sustainable food, farming and land use. Its Chief Executive is Helen Browning, and Chair of
Trustees is Martin Nye.
To find out more visit www.soilassociation.org / @SoilAssociation