‘Supporting Recovery Through Nutrition and Learning’ – An interview with Tony Waring – Chef at our RISE Recovery Service

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  1. Tony, can you tell me about the different projects you are involved in at RISE – Meal and nutrition planning (including allergens or special diets); the green growing scheme at RISE and Dutch Farm activities?

“I used to have an allotment 15 years ago where I grew vegetables and fruit for cooking and eating. I had to give it up. During my interview for the Chef role at RISE, I spoke about growing plants and how I used to do this at the allotment. The management interviewing me told me about their growing projects at Dutch Farm.

After starting as Chef at RISE, I spoke with Liz who manages Dutch Farm so that we could grow vegetables and fruits there and at RISE for use in meal preparation. Residents take part in these projects as part of making them aware of their nutritional needs – it’s the full cycle. I also sit down with residents on an individual basis concerning their specific nutritional needs, some may have allergies to food, not eat pork, or may be vegetarians. We plan meals together to meet these needs. If there is something that I don’t know about, I research it to help them.

Addiction as a mindset can also mean that some residents don’t want to eat vegetables and fruit. By involving them in growing their own plants, they become more aware of plants growing from seed or rooted and how with the right nurturing, these blossom. The awareness and ownership motivates them to eat these vegetables and fruit that their own bodies need for sustenance.”

  1. Do residents get involved in nutrition education and working in a kitchen as part of their educational or career development?

“Yes, they do. With recent lockdowns and isolation due to COVID, this development has been interrupted however, we are hoping to build on this programme for residents. This is something that I am really interested in being involved with, with residents because through my voluntary work with ‘An Hour for Others’ where we show families how to cook on a budget.

I have seen the value of education about food and health. Some may need day release to attend a college course if they are interested in becoming a chef. There are also courses such as Food Hygiene and so on that they can do.”

 

  1. What is the process for graduates to volunteer at RISE in the kitchen?

“We do have graduates that have returned and volunteered in the kitchen. Two of our past residents are qualified Chefs and working in a community kitchen such as the one at RISE is a step back into working and is a way of building their confidence again without excessive pressures. I have met with the team at The Brink and am hoping that in future our residents will be able to bake cakes that may be sold via The Brink.”

 

  1. How do you see these projects contributing to the development and wellbeing of residents at RISE?

“These projects are very important towards residents understanding their consumption of foods that is not driven or shaped by their addiction – for increasing their awareness. These projects also offer them opportunities to have their unique dietary needs both understood and met. It also gives them chances to develop kitchen and cooking skills for the future and to learn about health, safety and team working.

My philosophy is that I will not make meals for residents that I would not eat myself. If someone is having a lousy day, at least they have their lunch or dinner to look forward to. This means a lot to me, to contribute to their health and development in this way. I thoroughly enjoy my work at RISE with residents and staff.”

 

  1. How are meals organised over weekends when you are not in?

“We have a process in place for staff and residents to follow for meal preparation. On a Friday we do the preparation together for the meals on Saturday. This is currently going through some change as I put new processes in place. Kitchen duties forms part of resident therapeutic duties and contribution to the community.”