Kayleigh Dalton

Kayleigh and her three children, Mya (now 8), Leo (7) and Ella (4) 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.

Kayleigh and her children started coming to our Winnall Grub Club in February 2022, with her friend Jess – 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 Kayleigh 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 and do something different with her children.

Kayleigh says,

“Grub Club has helped me so much. I tend to get very overwhelmed by situations. Grub Club has helped me feel less overwhelmed by cooking – and less overwhelmed by situations in general. I used to avoid situations [like cooking] so I didn’t get upset, which meant the kids didn’t experience it.”

“Being at the group has helped me because there’s so much help. Whereas previously I would have avoided it – it has definitely helped me to be more relaxed, to be able to cook with the kids, which I think is amazing.”

A year ago Kayleigh’s middle child, Leo, would only eat a very restricted diet and had been referred to a dietician for advice; now he eats a really good, wide variety of foods and is really interested in food. Although there could be several co-factors instrumental to this change (age, schools etc), Kayleigh is certain that Grub Club has had a big influence on his behaviour change.

Kayleigh also said that the children’s attitude towards food has changed too,

“The way that they talk about food that they don’t like has changed, they will try things and then politely say that they don’t want it rather than shouting or refusing point blank to eat it. The children try way more foods now. I’m actually surprised at how much they know about food sometimes!”

Kayleigh said the difference in her levels of confidence now compared to when she first came to Grub Club is massive. She said it has definitely helped her at home and that she feels much more capable of putting foods and meals together at home (from scratch) without a recipe. She also wants to cook more, because it is no longer overwhelming.

Kayleigh said her eating habits have definitely changed since coming to Grub Club.

“We’ll try anything now – seeds, pulses, beans etc – mixed herbs go in everything (!) and we make homemade pizza all the time.”

She also said that being able to take the recipes home was really useful and that learning how to cross-reference recipes had helped her waste less and think outside the box with her cooking.

“The recipes are really useful as a reference point to use as a base for making the dishes – I can now open the cupboard and cook with what I’ve got.”

Kayleigh also said,

“I would never have used leftover foods before Grub Club – now all leftovers go in the fridge or freezer.”

Kayleigh said that she finds it difficult to feed her family how she would like to because of the cost of food and fresh food.

“It limits how many fresh meals you can eat. We eat about 50/50 fresh/frozen.

I would like to be able to say, we’re all having this tonight [the same thing], rather than eating separate meals because that’s all we’ve got.”

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 Kayleigh and her friend Jess 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 have made lots of new friends, and become more friendly with people that we knew before (at school).

We love the community atmosphere in the room [at Grub Club], and how everyone chats together and helps each other.”

Kayleigh said,

“We love Grub Club, we will always be there! I would love to learn more about [sustainable nutrition] – beans, pulses etc and hiding nuts and seeds in sauces.”

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