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February 2013: Now we're cooking with gas

It’s been a month of start-ups for us and things are really cooking at The Food Chain. The kitchen now hosts our Eating Together group on Wednesday lunchtime and the numbers of service users coming along to meet each other, share a nutritious meal and join in activities is really building up. We’ve also held the first Eating Positively session of the year involving a group of young people – some of whom had never cooked before - and today the kitchen is a hive of activity as we cook up a storm for the launch of our Spring Office Picnic fundraising campaign. Peter and a great team of volunteer cooks, kitchen assistants and hosts are making it all happen and it’s great to see the kitchen so much in use. So, Spring in here at The Food Chain – let’s hope the weather catches up with us soon.

I’ve also been out and about meeting HIV sector colleagues and learning about the latest policy developments that will be affecting our service users in the coming months. It’s disheartening to learn of the huge impact the housing benefit cap will have on the most vulnerable Londoners. The first areas to introduce the cap are the London boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey and it starts on April 1st 2013. Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity anticipate that very many people will have no choice but to move out of inner London to find affordable accommodation. For people living with HIV this could mean having to move away from their treatment centres and crucial health and social support networks. The Food Chain will have its part to play in monitoring the impact on our service users and supporting Shelter’s campaign as the cap begins to bite.

My recipe this month is a dessert as I’m very much pudding person! Rhubarb and ginger fool. Yorkshire is famous for its rhubarb production so this one speaks to my roots – and the tart flavour is wonderfully offset by the cream and the tangy ginger. I think it would also work with crème fraiche if a lower fat content is wanted. Yummy.