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Meet the Good Food Nation ambassadors

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Meet the Good Food Nation ambassadors

Donna McArdle set up Scotland’s first community-owned bakery in Dunbar, the Grassmarket Food Social Enterprise, the Old School Café and the Junk Food Project Edinburgh.

She also set up a Climate Challenge Fund in Gracemount, promoting growing and cooking, and is the development manager of Bridgend Farmhouse, a community-owned and run charitable organisation in Edinburgh.

“I’ve been a food activist in Edinburgh for at least the past decade and I’m massively passionate about real food and teaching people about how to shorten their food chains,” explains McArdle.

“I’ve set up a lot of nurturing kitchens where people who have not got a lot of confidence come in and build the confidence and learn to cook and realise that cooking is much easier than they thought.

“One of the things I’ve always done is cooking on budget courses. I’d never call them healthy eating courses, but they are healthy because I show people how to make things using three or four ingredients.

"This is the big problem – they watch cooking on television and they think that’s what cooking is. They think they haven’t got the time, the resources, the menus are too complicated. It’s about demystifying cooking.

 “Encouraging and funding and supporting more community kitchens is key so people can be given the skills.”

Stuart Forbes is a volunteer coordinator for the Mayfield and Easthouses Development Trust, which aims to achieve the sustainable regeneration of the community through addressing its economic, social, environmental and cultural needs.

“We have a community garden here and we are running a course over the coming year on teaching people how to grow their own fruit and veg,” explains Forbes. “It’s a fairly deprived neighbourhood, but because of the nature of the housing, most people have got gardens, but no one knows how to grow their own fruit and veg.

“We are trying to return that knowledge to the community.”

As a food ambassador, Forbes will be visiting community councils to give presentations on the bill and to make people aware of the consultation.

He says: “I’m looking for issues with food, access to food, inequality with food that people face on a day-to-day basis.

“It’s an issue with this community. Every week, we get waste food from one of the big suppliers and we have people who come and collect that because they’re on benefits or having problems.

“It’s good that food isn’t going to waste, but they have no choice. They only have what they’ve been given and there’s no consistency to it.

"Some weeks, it might be three bags of onions and some croissants and the next week, it could be a bag of peppers and that’s no way for people to have to live.

“So I think the right to food that we want to see enshrined in the good food nation bill isn’t just about people being able to eat, it’s about food not taking people’s dignity away.

"People need choice when it comes to food. If you’re just told what to eat all the time, then where’s the dignity in that?”

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