No translation is needed for food, it’s an international language. A team of public housing residents of the nine towers in North Melbourne and Flemington will launch their community cookbook Cooking, Recovery & Connections this weekend. The project is supported by cohealth’s Prevention and Community Partnerships team in the name of celebrating community resilience and recovery following the hard lockdown experienced by public housing communities last year. This lockdown removed residents’ autonomy, even around cultural practices and food choices.
Cooking, Recovery and Connections is packed with 18 recipes and artwork contributed from residents from a huge diversity of cultural backgrounds including Somalian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Indian, Egyptian, and South Sudanese.
The idea was born last year when Health Concierges identified concerns in their communities, that people were “a bit scared and concerned” to talk to other people in the housing blocks, said cohealth Health Concierge, Community Support Officer and resident Nagat Abdalla.
“We were desperately needing that connection because it was a really hard time for everyone,” she said. “Recipes and food were a topic we realised you can share. For our community it’s part of our daily life to share food. If you are a relative or if you are my neighbour, you come to my place or I give you a plate of my lunch or dinner. For us it was really something, a big thing to create all these recipes together, during such a hard time when everything stopped in our life. It’s something we are so emotional about. This book will be something memorable forever.”
This project is owned and led by public housing residents to support COVID-19 recovery – a community-driven response to support connection, wellbeing, and community resilience. The community led project has linked to local groups to build further resilience and connection across north and west regions of Melbourne including: Free to Feed, SisterWorks Social Enterprise, Mama’s Kitchen and Flourish program with Moonee Valley City Council, Flemington Neighbourhood Community Centre and multiple resident artists on the project (poetry by Zaynab Farah Victorian Poetry Slam finalist, music by Menal DJ (@dr_dj1), photography by resident and Kushitic Productions). One resident artist has produced a song about the book to perform at the community launch, MC Cam, which you can listen to here.
Copies of the cookbook will be given out free to 1,300 residents, but is also available free to the public here as a digital download. To give back to the community, you can donate to SisterWorks here.
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cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.