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CAFS Mixing Bowl project

Mixing Bowl –  a cooking program for teens

After seven weeks of this program running Child and Family Services(CAFS) have provided a brief update:

We have seven teens attending the program, two community volunteers, a CAFS staff member and Food Tech teacher. We average five teens each week; when all teens attend we silently rejoice, when teens do not attend we hope they come again the following week.

What we are learning about our teens:

  • A high majority of the teens suffer from anxiety, depression or social phobias; some days they cannot manage to get out of bed to come, the first day was really hard for some of the teens
  • Most of the teens do not have anything to look forward to until Fridays (Mixing Bowl)
  • Some of the teens attend school, however, these are mostly part-time arrangements
  • The teens are keen to cook and we try to put a mentor with each teen; particularly for those who need prompting
  • The teens know the routine and expectations; they are keen to start cooking and need to be working until finish time ‘idle hands idle minds’, although they are very efficient and we have need to add additional recipes- they should know approx. 15 recipes on completion
  • Some teens are forming relationships and spend time with each other after the program – this is really positive
  • We all enjoy eating what we have made together – the teens try new foods and talk about what is happening in their lives

What we are learning about our program:

  • Fed Uni have welcomed us and the facilities are fantastic
  • The mentors are finding the experience just as rewarding as the teens
  • We never know how many teens we cater for each week so the mentors cook as well, we share these portions within the group, particularly for those teens living independently
  • The teens prefer to learn hands on and help each other
  • Some behaviours are challenging so we consider how to approach these each week
  • The teens are starting to share their ideas for their own signature dishes for the final week (week 10); there is a wide variety of dishes
  • Sometimes teens struggle to get to/from the program; sometimes workers are late or teens do not have transport to/from the venue. Wet days are difficult for teens.”

This program has received funding through United Way Ballarat and The Ballarat Foundation in 2017.




United Way Ballarat is working to advance the common good of our community by focusing on Education, Income and Health.  These are the building blocks for a good life—a quality education that leads to a stable job, enough income to support a family through retirement, and good health.  United Way Ballarat asks all the citizens of Ballarat and surrounding areas to do three things: GIVE – money and goods; ADVOCATE – on behalf of those who cannot; and VOLUNTEER – to invest time in our community More about United Way Ballarat


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