This report presents findings from an evaluation of a community kitchen project planned and implemented by Dhara For Sustaining Life. The program was targeted primarily to individuals who are living with low income and secondarily to indigenous adults.
This program is one of the pioneer project started by our humanitarian founder Ankit Kumar. This program is functional since 2015. Active participation of the founder Ankit Kumar give boost to the enthusiasm and zeal to the facilitators to manage and hold this event in successful way.
The stated objectives of the program were to:
- Increase participant knowledge of meal preparation
- Expand participant awareness of how to prepare a broad range of healthy foods
- Build a sense of community and belonging
- Establish a program that can be replicated in other locations or agencies
- Expand participant awareness of healthy cooking methods
- Increase participant use of food bank staples in healthy recipes
- Enhance menu planning
- Participants know food safety basics
- Participants increase vegetable consumption.
The evaluation was implemented to determine:
- To what extent were the outcomes achieved?
- How can we improve the implementation of a community kitchen?
- Are we reaching our target population?
- Some participants expanded their awareness of how to prepare a broad range of healthy foods.
- Most felt a sense of belonging.
- Participants would like the community kitchen to keep going.
- It is uncertain whether participants’ awareness of healthy cooking methods increased.
- Most already had good handwashing habits before the community kitchen began.
- The community kitchen series from 2015 to 2018 had a total of 3000 participants
- There was general positive impression of facilitators and unanimous willingness to recommend participating in a community kitchen to a friend.
- Other lessons learned are reported in more detail below, to facilitate planning of future community kitchen series.
- It is difficult to determine the extent to which the target population was reached.
When asked for their perception of the most significant impact of the community kitchen series in their interviews, facilitators listed:
- People were introduced to healthy tricks and new affordable foods
- Food safety
- Being respectful and open to each other’s ideas and learning from one another
- Learned to eat healthier and cheaper
Outcome 2: Expands participant awareness of how to prepare a broad range of healthy foods
Among the participants who were interviewed, the emphasis on healthy foods was one of the most popular aspects of the community kitchen. Participants appreciated the nutritious recipes shared and the emphasis on incorporating vegetables into their cooking. Moving forward, suggestions to further enhance this aspect included eliminating canned and boxed food, prepare more whole foods and offer tips to help children eat more vegetables.
Outcome 3: Builds a sense of community and belonging
Interview participants shared that being around people and getting out of the house were aspects of the community kitchen that they very much liked, and for several this was the main reason for attending. The “friendly,” “casual,” “accommodating,” “open to everyone” approach where “everyone chipped in” as a “small friendly group” also recurred through interviews as positive characteristics of the community kitchens.
Outcome 4: Social Engagement with the Vulnerable Section
Through community kitchen series we at Dhara helping the poor section of people, Low income category people to have a meal which will generate fraternity amongst the society as a whole. We through this series provided them with the useful information which can be helpful for there health and well being.
Outcome 5: Facilitator capacity Building
Through community kitchen series, we at Dhara enabled and trained the facilitators to have knowledge about crowd management, procurement management and interacting with the crowd in more gentle and sensitive way.