At Side by Side, all students participating in the full day programme shop weekly for our food. We plan both what we are going to eat and what we need to buy on Fridays, and then shop on Mondays. As part of the planning, we also check the garden to see if anything we are growing can be used for our lunches. We also work within a budget and improve our understanding of finances by using money on a weekly basis. We believe money handling and awareness should be encouraged at all development levels and ages. Most Fridays we have Chinese lunch, where our students take it in turns to cook a Chinese meal for the rest of the group. We speak Chinese as much as possible at lunch time, and use Chinese dishes and chopsticks as well.
As well as daily meals, we also make cookies as a group at least once a week, and then sell them. The money raised is then matched by Side by Side and goes towards an excursion. We make special birthday meals, including cakes! At Side by Side, we use these activities to reinforce many of our numeracy, communication, behaviour, and social skills goals, as well as promote positive self esteem.
The skills developed during home economics are not only useful tools, but they also promote fine motor skills, and skills in following directions, planning, creativity and decision making. We study good hygiene and food practices, healthy eating, and food from different countries and cultures. Everyone is responsible for helping with food planning and preparation, which can sometimes mean a group effort, and sometimes using ingredients given to make something unique and creative. As part of the food preparation, we also all help in the cleaning up after eating. Side by Side works with any special dietary needs required for our clients.