Jessica Milburn

Jess and her two boys, Tyler, now 10 and Elliott (8) live in Winnall, a suburb of Winchester, which is amongst the 20% most deprived areas in the UK (index of Multiple Deprivation 2019), despite Winchester being one of the most expensive areas to live in in the UK.

Jess and her children started coming to our Winnall Grub Club in February 2022, with her friend Kayleigh – as there was nothing to do in the local area, after school; other clubs and youth clubs were on the other side of town and, as Jess doesn’t drive, these were (are) inaccessible to her and her children. She did not really have any expectations of what might happen at Grub Club, she just wanted to give it a go. When she asked the children about it they were really excited.

Jess says that Grub Club has benefited her and her family greatly – since coming to their first session almost a year ago the children eat a lot more different types of vegetables, commenting that they now eat spinach “all the time!”

“Elliott used to eat nothing, but now he eats a lot more and tries a lot more.”

This is particularly important since Elliott was diagnosed as type 1 diabetic last autumn.

With regards to cooking at home, Jess said,

“I am more confident at home, to try new things with the children, as they are much more likely to try new foods. We definitely cook from scratch more, are more adventurous. We never had herbs, spices [etc] in the cupboard before but now we have loads!

The children like it [Grub Club] because they like being able to pick what they want, getting the recipe and getting the ingredients and being in control.”

Jess and her two boys have also learnt new skills and ways of preparing food, such as making carrot ribbons, with a peeler, for a stir fry.

Jess said that it’s sometimes a struggle to cook and feed the family how she would like; for example, always using frozen veg, which sometimes makes her feel like she can’t provide [for her family]. She said that learning that frozen veg often has a higher nutritional value made her feel better, and there is less waste, which is good financially and from an environmental point of view.

She commented that,

“You appreciate it more when you cook it from scratch because you know you’ve made it and you know what’s in it [salt, sugar etc].”

Grub Club has had other positive effects on the family, such as making friends and integrating more into the community. Since coming to Grub Club Jess and her friend Kayleigh now volunteer at a local children’s play scheme run by someone that they met at Grub Club.

She says that there are many other positive benefits, aside from the food.

“We look forward to Grub Club at the beginning of the week and start thinking about what we might be cooking. We have made lots of friends, which has stretched to outside of the club as well.

We love the community atmosphere in the room [at Grub Club], with conversation stretching across the different tables.”

Jess said,

“We love Grub Club. There are not many opportunities to come out and do things so we are really grateful.”

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