Caption: MKR May 2019 workshop with participants Ahika, Nicole and Harjeet.

Latest News 14 August 2019 | For Manurewa mother of seven Melissa Dobbs, discovering the community cooking and nutrition programme Mum's Kitchen Rules (MKR) was a turning point.

“I feel like a more confident cook now having the knowledge of what I’m eating and putting into my body and my children’s bodies,” Melissa says.

MKR is a free programme, run by the Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) breastfeeding and baby feeding support service Te Rito Ora. It teaches hapu wahine and new mums the basics of nutrition and healthy cooking, as well as budgeting skills for their food shop.

Up to 20 women participate in each three-class series lead by Te Rito Ora Kaitipu Ora staff with the help of past participants, like Melissa, who train to become work station coaches,” Melissa says.

“There are lots of mums that have no idea on how to cook or what to buy. It can be an eye-opener for them because maybe they didn’t get taught these skills when they were younger.”

Past Te Rito Ora Programme Coordinator and now CM Health Lead Clinical Advisor – Maaori Midwifery Heather Muriwai says the series helps to chip away at the inequities facing many of the participants.

“It’s an amazing programme, but we’re still facing the consequences of poverty. It can be a real barrier for mums at home - to get out and do things - but we try to remove those barriers by working with the women out in the community,” Heather says.

“We also provide childcare for the mums while they’re in the kitchen. All of our Kaitipu Ora staff and work station coaches go through the police vetting process, so we can look after the babies and children.”

Although the core focus of the series is to improve maternal nutrition and healthy feeding of infants and toddlers, providing a space for mums to socialise with each other is equally as important, she says.

The number of women attending the series has risen substantially since it started in 2015. The programme now includes a separate series of weaning/first foods classes. Education on nutrition and budgeting is about making it accessible for the participants.

“We teach cooking skills, but it’s also about budgeting. Where do you go buy cheaper foods that will feed the whaanau rather than takeaways? Some people think takeaways are cheaper. South Auckland has the luxury of so many Saturday and Sunday markets. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to buy good fruit and vege. You can still eat well within a confined budget.”

The Te Rito Ora team is always looking for ways to reach more women with the programme. Recently a series was held at Nga Tai E Rua Marae in Tuakau, and Nga Hau E Wha Marae in Pukekohe for the first time; outside of its usual base at the Manukau City Baptist Church.

“We want to take the series to where the women are, so this is the next step.”

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