Kentish, Tasmania

Cassandra Speed isn’t interested in creating complicated meals that feature on television cooking shows. Instead, she focuses on nutrition, budgeting and learning to cook basic meals and bringing families together around the table.

Cassandra, coordinator of the Glenhaven Family Care – Kentish Family Support House in Tasmania’s northwest, has been breaking down a lot of barriers while running cooking classes for families in the area.

“Lots of parents tell their kids they can’t cook because they are in a hurry and need to get dinner ready, or they don’t want the kids to make a mess,” she said. “During our classes I tell them go ahead and make a mess, as long as you are cooking together.”

The classes, run with support from the John Wallis Foundation, recruit families from the nearby Railton Primary School and the wider community. Already 12 families have participated with some families coming to most weekly classes.

Apart from learning that pizzas can have healthy toppings and chocolate cake can be replaced with healthy lunchbox snacks, the families are also learning about each other and the other services provided by the Support House in Kentish, where unemployment is high and wages of half the population are lower than the Tasmanian average.

“Lot of the families who have participated have seen one another in the school but never spoken. Now their social network has expanded. It’s also a great opportunity for the families to learn that we provide other supports when needed including emergency relief,” she said.

The next class starts in May 2018 and Cassandra is expecting a full kitchen.

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