Scroll Top

Justice Services inspire cooking on a budget

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Justice Services team’s Making a Difference (MAD) service user project has been holding cooking challenges…

For each challenge, a bag of ingredients and a recipe is dropped off to group members to see who can create the best dish.

Some of those taking part in the challenges began keeping the recipes in folders so they could make them again in the future, and it was decided that a MAD cookbook would be a fantastic way to keep all of those recipes together and share with others.

Towards the end of last year, the (MAD) service user project worked alongside North Ayrshire Foodbank to provide 250 copies of the cookbook to be included in the Christmas hampers that went out to those residing in temporary housing over Christmas.

Social Worker, Lisa Kerr from the Health and Social Care Partnership commented: “The service users who had been involved in our previous cookbook cooking challenges are delighted that other people have been getting enjoyment from the cookbook.

“One of the Making a Difference cooking challenge members spoke about how much he’s enjoyed the challenge and said that it has made him think more about using fresh produce instead of living on fast and processed foods and that the food ideas have really helped him as he is on a low budget on benefits and finances are tight.”

And members of the MAD service user project have also helped spread the word of our Fairer Food Network, by featuring promotion of two of the Council’s community larders in their newsletter last year.

The Council’s Fairer Food network of community larders is another way we are helping people in need throughout North Ayrshire who are facing food poverty. Here, our dedicated volunteers help to give residents the know-how they need to access affordable, nutritious food and cook quick, easy and healthy meals on a budget.

Set up in partnership with community organisations during the pandemic, there are currently 11 community larders in operation throughout Irvine, Kilwinning, Three Towns, North Coast and the Garnock Valley – supporting some of the area’s most vulnerable residents. In addition, food support for the islands is being coordinated locally, including creating contingency stores at Arran Outdoor Centre.

A bowl of warming Scottish stovies prepared using the MAD cookbook recipe. Delish!

Fiona Pow, Fair for All Development Officer, has been working closely with Locality Teams, Community Facilities Team and the larder volunteers to help each of the locations to set up their food supply, implement the correct food hygiene measures and help them to establish their services into some of the most deprived areas of North Ayrshire.

She commented: “The MAD cookbook has provided lots of inspiration for our own larder recipe card ideas, including the affordable recipe for stovies, a warming comfort-food favourite. I would like to thank everyone involved in the MAD service user project for helping to spread the word about how community larders can help those struggling with their weekly grocery shopping and for continuing to give our volunteers lots of affordable and accessible recipe ideas for members to enjoy.

“We are all set to open three more community larders in Beith, Kilbirnie, Springside over the coming months and are always looking for ideas to help promote the Council’s Fairer Food network. So, whether you are working with service users who could benefit from a referral or you’d simply like to get involved yourself by donating or volunteering, please get in touch so that together we can tackle food poverty head on in North Ayrshire.”

Donate to your local community larder

To help keep the shelves fully stocked, your local larder is calling out for donations.

The most popular items are cereal, sugar, biscuits, diluting juice, tinned meat, pasta, tinned veg, pasta sauce, stock cubes, one meal tins (macaroni, soup, chilli con carne etc), rice pudding, custard, jelly, jam, shampoo and deodorant.

Donations can be dropped at any of the larders during their opening hours. To find out what these are, visit the Google Map here: here.

If you would like to make a monetary donation to any of the larders, please contact: Laura Taylor: or Pam Crosthwaite:

Did you know?

Our community larders also have free period products for those who need them. All part of our #perioddignity initiative, read more in the Staff Talk article here about how you can get involved in shaping the Period Dignity North Ayrshire Strategy so we can support more people who need our help.

Looking for a copy of the cookbook?

If you would like a copy of the MAD cookbook, you have a good budget-friendly recipe to share or if you’d like to sign up for the Making a Difference newsletter to keep up to date with what the group has been up to, email:

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.