Tell us about yourself

My name is Maggie Bennett. I trained as a Home Economist, many moons ago, and most of my career has been in the food industry, food publishing and food education. I grew up in London, then moved out to the country in the 1980s. Now retired, I enjoy many volunteering activities, including running a Lunch Club for the elderly and helping to run the bookshop at Emmaus in Carlton. My partner and I enjoy visiting National Trust properties, travel and seeking out good food eateries. I have two grown-up children, who are also keen cooks.

What attracted you to volunteer with Food etc?

I feel passionately about the importance of healthy eating in the prevention of western diseases and obesity, and also enjoyment of meals as a social occasion, especially for connecting families and developing healthy eating habits. I lament the poor representation of cookery lessons in schools and strongly feel that all children should learn to cook as an essential life skill

What’s your favourite thing about working with Food etc?

Children are enthusiastic about cooking when they are given the opportunity. All our families have thoroughly enjoyed the sessions and it’s very rewarding to see them tucking into something they haven’t made or tasted before and saying that the homemade is so much nicer than a ready meal! It’s also been interesting for us to meet families from different countries and cultures and to hear about their cuisine

What have you found to be your biggest challenge about working with Food Etc?

Nothing really, although sometimes encouraging children to try more vegetables or to be more adventurous with flavourings is work in progress! Occasionally a hyperactive child needs greater attention but either the parent or a classroom assistant helps out so as not to disrupt the rest of the group.

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering?

Definitely go for it! We always enjoy our sessions, the feedback is positive and it’s very rewarding to see the children’s enthusiasm and enjoyment.

What’s your healthy go to meal?

One can always make a stir-fry, a soup or an omelette with whatever’s in the fridge. I like to make a veg curry using canned tomatoes and red split lentils from the store cupboard. I love Middle Eastern flavours so dishes like lamb with apricots are a go-to favourite.