An Evening with SoulFood at Brighton Women’s Centre

Who are SoulFood?

SoulFood is a project that aims to get participants excited about food and feel confident in sharing food skills and ideas together. It is run by community development and education charity Livestock, and part of their mission to connect, inspire and entertain.

SoulFood differs from the usual food-centred groups that focus on teaching cooking skills. Instead, SoulFood takes a holistic approach; encouraging people to share stories and have discussions around healthy eating, all whilst cooking together. Livestock focuses on discussions, creativity and tailored experiences that are all focused on empowerment.

SoulFood at Brighton Women’s Centre

SoulFood ran four pilot sessions, hosted at the Brighton Women’s Centre peer group drop-in on Thursday evenings. The drop-in sessions are open to all women in need of emotional support, advice and information. It acts as a safe, women-only environment which can offer support, provide information, company, and a supportive voice and advice to women who attend.

I had the pleasure of joining Soul Food on their final session at the Brighton Women’s Centre. All of the women were welcomed in by Ingrid and Maggie from SoulFood and two volunteers from the Brighton Women’s Centre. It ended up being a very full table, with seven women attending the session. It was lovely to see that many of the women had attended the previous sessions as they greeted Ingrid and each other warmly.

The session began with a fresh rosemary and lavender tea for relaxation and concentration. This was served with freshly baked banana and chia seed cake – that was still warm from Ingrid having just baked it! The bananas used were from FareShare and was a reminder of how we can all repurpose those overripe bananas. All of the women (myself included) quickly asked Ingrid for the recipe and noted it down.

Each session has a loose theme that is created to encourage women to talk and share as they prepare the food for dinner. This week’s theme was food and celebration. It was lovely to witness everyone reminisce and share their own traditions and food experiences during times of celebration. The women shared about family Christmas dinners – the highs and the lows! One woman shared about preparing food for Chinese New Year and taught us all the different types of dumplings she made. Another discussed the pressure of making the perfect meal for her family for Christmas.

All of the women sat around the table chatting and preparing the dinner – there was plenty of peeling, potato squashing and chopping for all to do! It became a time to discuss coming together as a family and how we celebrate ourselves too.

Food glorious food!

This week’s dinner was a delicious taka dhal, asparagus and cauliflower curry, squashed roasted potatoes and a carrot salad – yummy!

Food was at the heart of the evening; everybody loved the opportunity to cook and eat together. Ingrid based the menu on the food surplus from FareShare – so not only was it saving food from bins but it gave the opportunity to get creative with dinner. In particular, the informal structure of the evening made all the women feel relaxed and many shared stories of replicating the food they had cooked all together.

My favourite part is learning new skills and learning what spices go with what food” – one of the woman in the group said.

After the dinner each woman then gets to select a bag of food, all of which is supplied by FareShare. It was lovely to see the woman have the ability to pick and choose the food and all talk about what they plan to cook.

Thank you for inviting us round SoulFood – we hope projects like this can continue.

To find out more about Livestock and SoulFood click here.

By Ella Graham, FareShare Sussex Intern