Brakes 'Let's Get Cooking' Team Challenge

Date : 15 June 2011

Brakes Let's get cookingBusiness Sector



Pilot scheme in Ashford, Kent

Type of engagement

The Brakes Group is a leading supplier to the foodservice sector in the UK, Ireland, France and Sweden. As part of its Corporate, Social & Environmental Responsibility (CSER) strategy Brakes employees are embarking on a new community programme that encourages building relationships within local communities.

Pupils, staff and Brakes volunteers celebrate a fantastic dayOver the last six months they have been working closely with a great community initiative called Let’s Get Cooking to develop the company’s employee volunteering programme within schools. Let’s Get Cooking teaches children and young people the skills needed to cook healthy meals from scratch. The initiative will teach children to adopt a good, balanced diet and share their new skills within their families and local community.

Employees from Brakes UK Head Office have pioneered the volunteering programme, and have had the opportunity to enhance their skills by completing a Let’s Get Cooking Team Challenge at Phoenix Community Primary School, Ashford, Kent.

Purpose of engagement and activities

The proportion of children eligible for free school meals is well above average and the school runs a breakfast club attended by about 55 pupils. The percentage of pupils with learning or other types of difficulties is high.

In 2011 eight staff from Brakes’ Ashford HQ trialled the first Let’s Get Cooking Team Challenge with the school. The day consisted of numerous fun and educational activities which all promoted healthier foods and cooking skills. Pupils from years 1-4 took part in games where they learnt how to identify root, fruit and leaf vegetables while Year 5-6 children made a variety of healthy recipes from fruit kebabs to Thai curries and scones with ingredients kindly donated by Pauleys, Brakes’ fresh produce specialists.

To make the day even more special, Brakes employees sourced chef hats, aprons and prizes for the games session with years 1-4. Year 5-6 children’s numeracy, made a variety of mouthwatering healthy recipes ranging from fruit kebabs to Thai curries

The day was finished of by laying out a scrumptious buffet of all the food that had been made, and inviting parents to come and taste the cooking. Recipe cards were given out to encourage the families to make what the children had cooked, at home together with their families.

Volunteers really used their creative and organisational skills to make the day special and meaningful for everyone who participated. As a result of a successful day, Brakes and Phoenix will form an ongoing mutually beneficial partnership.

Results and benefits

The support given to Phoenix Community Primary has widened opportunities the school offers to pupils additional to the national curriculum. The cooking sessions, interaction with different people, the recipe cards and ingredients supplied by the volunteers, leave a valuable legacy which helps young children feel confident and capable of making their own food from scratch. This in turn teaches pupils how to make wise and positive choices when it comes to their own nutrition and food choices. On a personal level, volunteer’s feedback was really positive with:

  • Over 60% said that the experience was a great teambuilding exercise, with most saying it had improved their relationship with colleagues;
  • Above 80% of volunteers reported that the experience had been rewarding and fun, and as a result felt more committed to Brakes and had increased pride in the company.

Equally significantly the initiative meant over 125 children having access to role models from the world of work and being given serious learning messages about healthy eating in a fun and creative environment.

Marion White, the schools family liaison officer at Phoenix is sure of the benefits and impact of the day. “We had a great day last Wednesday; the feedback from children, parents, staff and Governors has been very positive and enthusiastic. We as a school can't wait to work with Brakes projects again.”

Vikki Duggan, Team Leader with Brakes is equally enthusiastic. “It was a fantastic experience for everyone involved. We are looking forward to continuing a partnership with the school. I'm really proud of what we achieved and the school were overwhelmed by the positive impact on the children”

Find out more

Find out more about the work Brakes is doing with the community and to support educational initiatives at