Creating Connections through Cooking project

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About the Creating Connections through Cooking Project

The Creating Connections through Cooking program was run by QAST from July 2019, until 30 June 2024.

It involved people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds volunteering in a school tuckshop. QAST helped to recruit community members and match them with a local school where they could volunteer. We supported them to be orientated to the tuckshop environment.

Who benefited from the program?

The project primarily targeted women from refugee and migrant backgrounds. These women often don’t participate in volunteer or work opportunities due to caring for small children, so may have less opportunity to practice English or gain work experience. Creating Connections through Cooking provided an opportunity for these women to be active participants in the school community, meet other people and share their fantastic cooking skills.

How did these volunteers help in the tuckshop? 

There were a range of tasks that volunteers could complete. Depending on their initial skills, volunteers may prefer to only complete some of these tasks until they become more confident, including:

  • Preparing food
  • Packaging food and sorting into class boxes or service displays
  • Sharing new recipes
  • Serving food to students
  • Washing the dishes
  • Cleaning.

In late 2022, we sat down with volunteer, Najiba Tahirie to talk about her experience in the tuckshop. Take a look at the video. We also chatted with Annie Morris from TAFE Qld about the benefits for volunteers.

Did participants need any special skills to volunteer? 

Everyone could volunteer in a tuckshop by contributing one or more hours each week, during school hours. There were no special skills or previous experience needed.

If you do not have a child at the school where you volunteer, volunteers needed to have a (free) Blue Card (Working with Children Check) to start volunteering. QAST helped volunteers complete this application if needed.

A member of the QAST project team supported new volunteers on their first day in the tuckshop, and provided ideas of suitable tasks for the tuckshop convenor. When the tuckshop convenor and volunteer were comfortable, they could continue this working relationship without additional support from QAST.

What our volunteers had to say 

“Volunteer in the tuckshop – it’s the best!”

Keen to hear what the first day was like? We sat down with volunteer, Uka, to hear about her experience. Read her story.

ABC News Brisbane completed a story about the project in March 2021, which included an interview with some of our participants. Take a look!

The Creating Connections through Cooking program was proudly supported by the Queensland Government.

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