Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Families learn to serve healthy meals at cut price

An innovative Western Australian project that teaches vulnerable families how to cook healthy meals while slicing food bills has been extended by the Australian Government.

The Australian Government is providing $73,000 to the Red Cross to continue the FOODcents program for another year, supporting Perth families wanting to make diet and lifestyle changes.

FOODcents has helped 500 clients develop the skills to choose, purchase and prepare healthy and affordable foods from $175,000 Australian Government funding over the last four years.

Around 180 volunteers have been involved in the program, going into clients’ homes to educate them about improving diets, cooking tips and making their grocery dollar go further.

There are many families feeling the bite on their budgets from increased living expenses such as petrol prices and mortgage rates.

The Red Cross is delivering a valuable service guiding parents struggling to manage their household budgets and who can benefit from developing healthy shopping and cooking skills.

Clients also learn about safety in the kitchen, how to read food labels and how to compare costs per kilo. They also have access to tools like a wallet-sized ready reference to help decipher confusing nutrition panels on food packaging.

FOODcents has assisted diverse situations from clients with medical conditions like diabetes to Aboriginal grandmothers who are the primary carers of their grandchildren.

The program has also worked in schools with recently-arrived refugees and children who care for their younger siblings, preparing the evening meals for their entire family.

The children learnt basic cooking skills including how to cook for large groups, utilise leftovers and prepare meals with limited foods in the cupboard.

FOODcents is an another example of how the Government is providing practical assistance to help meet community needs, in this case imparting skills for preparing healthy meals, snacks and lunchboxes that will last a lifetime.