Our Nutrition and Naturopath Lecturer cooks breakfast for the homeless

Teresa Mitchell-Paterson is a Senior Nutritional and Naturopathic Lecturer at the Australian College of Natural Therapies.

She recently volunteered at Wayside Chapel to teach a group of homeless people how to cook breakfast for the first time in their lives. Teresa has been a nutritional and naturopathic practitioner for over 25 years, she also holds a Master of Health Science in Human Nutrition, Bachelor of Health Science Complementary Medicine, and Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy.

I never knew you could get to the age of 40 and over, and not know how to make breakfast! As a naturopath, this was such a shocking discovery for me.

cooking low res cooking action low res Teresa cooking low res

My professional experience as a nutritional and naturopathic practitioner of over 25 years, I understand how our diet affects our physical and mental states. As a way to help others, I decided to volunteer at the Wayside Chapel. The visitors here live on the street and have nowhere to cook, so really it is not surprising. Especially as some of them have spent all of their lives without a home.

I wanted to help these people gain some practical skills rather than just receiving the food. In discussion with staff at the Chapel, I came up with two simple nutritious breakfasts that were cheap and easy to make.

On the day, when I arrived, the visitors had used the facilities to get clean clothes and have their clothes laundered. It is an essential and much-needed service the Chapel provides.

Then the day began. A special group of nine men attended who had signed in for a program to promote mental wellness. We started the morning with my first demonstration of rolled oat porridge with extra bran, banana, plain yoghurt and pepita seeds. They were very interested in the nutritional reason for this combination and they were keen to try it, and some ventured on to cook it themselves.

 “It was a very rewarding experience and I would like to teach there again, perhaps next time with the indigenous groups.”

My second option was scrambled egg with spinach, tomato and fat reduced cheddar with wholemeal wholegrain bread. This was another success, with a few others joining in the cooking. Towards the end of the session, we had quite a team going with some guys helping, chopping, cleaning, cooking toast and others helping with buttering the toast.

I was greatly humbled by this experience. So many of them were so keen to learn and ask so many nutritional questions. When we finished, we sat down for a cup of tea and coffee to talk about diabetes, diet, and health. It was such a great discussion that a few other visitors joined in on the conversation.

What struck me about the Wayside Chapel was the dedication of the staff and volunteers and the sense of community they provide for people in the area. It was a very rewarding experience and I would like to teach there again, perhaps next time with the indigenous groups.

Do you want to get involved at Wayside Chapel? They are always looking for volunteers!


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