Impact of the Social Café Meals program: a qualitative investigation.
ISSUE ADDRESSED this paper describes a process evaluation of the participants and organisations involved in Community Kitchens in the Local Government Areas of Frankston City and Mornington Peninsula Shire in Victoria, Australia. METHODS participants, facilitators and project partners from 17 Community Kitchens were invited to participate in the evaluation via a written survey and focus group discussion (participants) or structured telephone interview (facilitators and project partners). Qualitative data were analysed using a thematic analysis approach. RESULTS ninety-three individuals (63 participants, 20 facilitators, and 10 project partners) participated in the evaluation. Data showed that Community Kitchens reached population sub-groups that face the greatest health inequalities. Project partners were generally satisfied with the project and were able to identify enablers (e.g. support from the project team and running of other concurrent programs) and barriers (e.g. size of the kitchen and transportation) to setting up and sustaining a Community Kitchen. The themes that emerged from participants' and facilitators' experience of participating in the project concerned food and cooking skills, social skills and community participation. CONCLUSIONS the project enabled the development of food knowledge and cooking skills, as well as social skills and support networks among participants and facilitators. There is a need to determine what impact Community Kitchens may have on participants' nutritional status, as well as the effect of Community Kitchens on food security at an individual, household and community level. Further longitudinal studies are needed to affirm the findings of this study.