Foodies rejoice over Ministry of Food

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The Jamie’s Ministry of Food van has already inspired hundreds of Bendigo residents to get back into the kitchen, and the program is proving so popular, classes at its next stop in Long Gully were booked out in two days.

Jamie’s Ministry of Food is part of Healthy Together Bendigo,  government-funded initiative helping people in the Bendigo region achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Ministry of Food trainer Ashley Mariani, of Castlemaine, said the van had received a “really warm welcome” in its first few weeks of operation.

“Everyone is really excited to be here, especially being the first in Victoria,” she said.

“Our attendance levels are good, people are coming back.”

Since rolling into town on January 12, Ms Mariani and her fellow trainers have been teaching 23 classes a week.

The van will move to Long Gully on February 19 for another six weeks of workshops.

“People’s confidence is growing and that’s a huge part of it,” Ms Mariani said.

“It’s all about confidence and skills so people can get back into the kitchen and start cooking again from scratch.”

Dianne Dove, of Bendigo, and Donna Maddison, of Maryborough, both read about the Ministry of Food van  in their local newspapers and were inspired by their love of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks to give the classes a go.

The busy mums also thought it would be a good opportunity to take time out of their week to do something for themselves. “Even though I cook I thought I’d pick up a few ideas,” Ms Dove said.

Ms Maddison said the classes were fun and simple. “I find it hard to think of new things to cook and combinations of flavours,” she said.

‘This has got me enjoying cooking a bit more. You don’t need many ingredients and it’s so easy.”

Ms Dove said she also enjoyed the variety in the classes.

“It’s great because it addresses a range of people and their abilities,” she said.

“Ashley makes it fun as well.

“It’s good, that it makes it easy to come along and do it.”

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