Feed Me Right – feeding young people

Food insecurity is a growing issue amongst vulnerable young people across the Geelong region, a situation significantly impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barwon Child Youth and Family’s Youth Services team is increasing access to nutritious food for some of our community’s most vulnerable members, through its innovative Feed Me Right project. The project aims to increase access to healthy food and improve health education for young people aged 16-25 years experiencing homelessness; through the delivery of interactive cooking classes and the development of food start-up packages for young people entering accommodation.

The Feed Me Right project received an $8,000 grant from the Give Where You Live Foundation to help the programs in preventing longer term health implications as well as addressing short-term needs for food.

Barwon Child Youth and Family’s Manager Youth Services Mandy Baxter said the funding would have meaningful short-term and long-term impacts.

Mandy’s Story

“Within Barwon Child Youth and Family’s Youth Services, we work with young people to develop their independent living skills, to set them up for a healthy future. Through the Feed Me Right program, we have an opportunity to change the way these young people view food and offer food knowledge that they otherwise may not have experienced before.”

Feed Me Right will see young people provided with nutritional food packs relevant to the cooking facilities they have access to. These will be tailored to emergency accommodation, crisis accommodation and transitional accommodation.

“When the most pressing issue for people who are homeless is just finding a meal, nutrition is a secondary consideration. When they can afford to buy food, it is often food high in fat, salt and sugar, contributing to longer term health implications; some of the cheapest food available is also some of the unhealthiest. By providing food packages, young people will have the basics they require to prepare nutritious meals.”

The online cooking classes were offered as an opt-in resource for young people to further develop cooking skills and healthy food preparation habits. These classes were developed and delivered by the Barwon Child Youth and Family’s Youth Services team, which includes a qualified chef, and saw participants join in an online Zoom session to prepare one meal per session.

This interactive program encouraged young people to ask questions and have fun with healthy food, while learning nutritional information and basic cooking skills they do not currently possess.

“It is widely recognised that food insecurity has detrimental effects on individuals, families and the community as a whole.”