Sustainability: what does it mean and how do we achieve it?

You may have seen our recent post about how we in the Herefordshire Hub have signed the Herefordshire Food Charter! But what does this actually mean? As an organisation, Kids Kitchen has always championed sustainability – promoting more environmentally friendly food choices and celebrating local produce wherever possible. It’s one of our key values! What does this look like in practice though? How does a Hub work towards sustainability, and encourage other families to do the same?

It can look different for each Hub, but here are EIGHT ways that Kids Kitchen Herefordshire are trying to be more sustainable:

1. Partnering with local organisations who share our values: Our newly launched Growing and Cooking sessions at the Willow Cafe in Hereford are a great example of how we can collaborate with other local organisations who are doing amazing things with community gardens! We can use the veg grown there in our sessions, which is not only fantastic in terms of sustainability, it also allows us to teach the families who have joined us all about where their food comes from. We are hoping to have other similar sessions and collaborations set up soon too, so watch this space!

The veg garden at the Willow Cafe

2. Using Local Veg Suppliers: Obviously, not all of our session venues are fortunate enough to have their own veg garden, so when we aren’t using veg that has been grown on site, we try to use other local suppliers. As well as supporting local businesses, this means we tend to be able to buy veg with minimal packaging, minimal ‘food mileage’ and minimal waste produce – all of which are fantastic in terms of sustainability and environmentally friendly options! Most of the veg for the sessions at Coningsby Children’s Centre comes from local Leominster Greengrocers Parry’s Fruit and Veg – Kate walks to the shop before each session to collect the supplies.

3. Kate’s Herb Garden: Hub Coordinator Kate has set up a fantastic herb garden at her house, with a huge range of different herbs ready to be used in sessions! Again, by growing our own we are removing the need for packaging and we can pick exactly what we need, avoiding any wastage. Her kids have really enjoyed being involved in the process of planting and growing these herbs and it has been very easy to do so it’s well worth having a go yourself and growing your own supply of tasty flavouring! Feel free to ask Kate for more info in any of your sessions!

4. Store Cupboard of supplies: It’s no surprise that over the years, our session leaders build up a bit of a collection of surplus ingredients from sessions! The Herefordshire Hub have a specific store cupboard at Kate’s house for all the extra bits and pieces that are used. Then before each session, they can check in with each other and see what we already have and what they need to buy. Any surplus from one session that can be used at a later date will be factored into the session recipe planning – for example the extra tins of chick peas not used at the summer session in Baron’s Cross means that a falafel recipe has been selected for Kay’s session this Monday – the chick peas will be used and we are once again avoiding food surplus or wastage. Whilst it’s mainly non-perishables such as tinned food, pasta, rice, cous cous or flour, if we have more than one session planned within a week, we can also choose recipes that use the same veg too, and ensure anything left from the first session gets used at the second one.

5. Leftovers: Sitting down and eating together is a big part of what we do in our sessions, so most of the food we make gets eaten there and then. However we do sometimes end up with leftovers! Families are always very welcome to bring their own container and take some of the food away with them – especially if it’s been a big hit with your child! Anything else, whether that’s the actual meal or just fresh ingredients that won’t last until the next session, get’s taken home by the session leaders and eaten by them and their own families. Everyone should be aiming to send zero food waste to landfill so at Kids Kitchen we try our best to achieve this!

6. Composting: Linking in with the previous point, any veg waste we generate – skins, cores, the end of the carrot, etc – gets composted whenever possible. As well as being better for the environment by reducing landfill volume, it has the added bonus of helping to fertilise those herbs Kate is growing! Talk about sustainability!

Some of our plant based recipes from previous sessions

7. Plant Based, Whole Ingredients: Did you know all our recipes are fully plant based? We don’t use meat or animal products, or the highly processed alternatives, in any of our sessions! Whilst our aim is not to make all the families who join us become vegan, reducing the amount of processed foods, meat and animal products we eat can be a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and make your lifestyle more sustainable. By only using non processed, whole, plant based ingredients in our sessions, not only do we ensure WE are as sustainable as possible as an organisation, it also shows families that great tasting, healthy, simple meals that the kids will eat, don’t always have to contain meat.

8. Reusable Kit: Every Kids Kitchen session uses the same sort of kit – child friendly knives and scissors, graters, chopping boards, bowls and a range of reusable plates, cups, bowls and cutlery. Wherever possible, we avoid single use plastics and make sure we share equipment between sessions to avoid excessive numbers of these items being required. Avoiding disposable containers, plates, cutlery, towels and cloths, which all could easily be used in these sorts of sessions, really helps us achieve our sustainability goals. Anyone who has ever been to a Kids Kitchen Session will agree – washing up the equipment ready to use next time is just as much fun as the rest of the session as far as the kids are concerned!

If you’d like to see all these points in practice, come and join us at a session soon! You can find out more about our upcoming sessions here and make sure you join our mailing list to ensure you don’t miss any updates!