Leading food rescue organisation, OzHarvest has received international recognition for its nutrition education program NEST by the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients MDPI. Following a successful review and redesign of NEST (Nutrition Education and Skills Training), the program has been formally recognised as a sound evidence based public health nutrition program that can help to promote food security.
Innovation has been a huge part of OzHarvest’s NEST program over the past couple of years to help improve nutritional literacy and teach adults from vulnerable backgrounds how to cook easy healthy meals on a budget, increasing their social connections and life skills.
NEST Program Manager and lead-author of the published paper, Elisha West wanted to ensure the program could achieve long-term goals and worked with Deakin University to produce the research article. “After five years running 10,000 NEST workshops with charities across the country, we could see the value of the program, but wanted to determine and show the true impact. We conducted surveys before and after the program to measure change and detailed interviews with participants to thoroughly understand the role that NEST plays in people’s lives.”
“The results showed a noteworthy impact in improving the diet, cooking skills and food security enabling participants to stretch their food budgets, select and cook healthier foods, and save money. We can now show the benefits and longer-term behavioural change of NEST to the community and to have this formally published by a leading academic journal, boosts the credibility of the program and will help secure future funding,” said Elisha.
Anne Klaric of Servants Community Housing, Romana House in Victoria took part in the research and says the benefits of NEST go way beyond nutrition education. “Men who had never cooked before had a whole new world open up to them by learning basic cooking skills, even to the level of how to use a sharp knife properly! There was such a building of relationships among residents participating – people who never usually talked, working alongside each other. Laughing and eating with people from outside the house was a wonderful exposure and confidence building for people who may rarely leave the property.”
The new NEST program includes a range of easy-to-use resources catering for different demographic groups, nutrition education delivered in a fun way and budget-friendly, easy recipes in a new photo-based ‘Everyday Cookbook.’
Following COVID restrictions, NEST workshops will resume in Sydney and Canberra from September, with plans to roll out the program in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and regional QLD and NSW if funding can be secured. Current NEST supporters include: ACT Government, John James Foundation, City of Melbourne, City of Sydney, Greater Charitable Foundation, RACV and AON.
To find out more or support NEST, please contact Elisha West at [email protected] .
To read the full research paper in Nutrients MDPI, click here https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/8/2197.