Our vision is to improve people’s health and wellbeing by changing the way we eat and developing essential life skills. To do this we work with the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in the community through providing free cookery demonstrations around East Devon, South Somerset and West Dorset.
Health issues relating to diet are a huge public health issue. In the UK, it is estimated that around 70,000 avoidable deaths are caused by diets that fall short of current guidelines on healthy eating. HALFF are fulfilling a need in the community and beyond. Moreover individuals diagnosed with health issues receive no practical cookery advice from the NHS (eg: heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure).
To address this HALFF delivers informal cookery advice to equip individuals with the skills and confidence to plan, prepare, and cook healthy food from scratch. We also help people understand the seasonality of food, thus reducing the costs of eating healthily. In our sessions we explore food labelling and help people see the links between food and health. These skills will help people to feel supported to make the changes they need in their lives to eat more healthily and sustainably and cook more at home.
Our ethos is firmly entrenched in responding appropriately to need rather than being prescriptive. The last 9 years we have helped people feel supported to make simple changes to their diet and become confident cooking with fresh produce. With 250 parents of young children attending our courses and working with 2 local youth groups we have helped bring back the social importance of meal times as well as teaching an essential life skill.
Alongside the charitable activities for the community we also run HALFF’s Food Hub, a general greengrocer shop in the centre of Axminster. We stock fresh fruit and vegetables, healthy ready meals, and local juice, preserves and honey. The shop promotes responsible (sustainable) foods, advice to achieve a healthy diet and cookery course information.
HALFF grew out of the community. A group of local parents identified that there was very little support given to parents about how to feed their babies and young children. We saw how confused people were with all the conflicting information they received through supermarkets, television and health workers, and that they did not have the skills to identify evidence based information as opposed to marketing based information. We, therefore, set up cooking and nutrition sessions for parents in four local towns.
Although these sessions were very well received and have helped parents considerably, they inevitably only provide a service for people who choose to go to the sessions at a pre-planned time. However, pre-arranged sessions may not suit all members of the community as some may not have the confidence to attend or may not be available at the time of the session.
So HALFF set up the HALFF Food Hub in Axminster – a fruit and vegetable and local food shop which also provides information and advice for people about cooking and nutrition, so that people can access information as and when they need it.
HALFF now runs sessions for many sectors of the community, including pregnant women, carers, people living alone, children and young people and people with heart disease, type II diabetes and high blood pressure.