A RALLYING call has gone out for more helpers to join a team of volunteers in the Heworth area of York teaching youngsters how to cook.

As health campaigners press the need for action to tackle childhood obesity across the nation, children as young as four are learning how to create healthy meals in the dedicated Cook School kitchen at Hempland Primary.

Every pupil aged four to 11 has the opportunity to have lessons in using fresh ingredients, tasting new flavours, learning new skills and the importance of healthy eating.

Deidre Souch, Cook School co-ordinator and teaching assistant, said new helpers were needed to ensure the daily sessions, which have been running for eight years, continue.

Volunteers can be from the local community as well as parents and grandparents of pupils.

Mrs Souch said: “We have 420 children and they all do four sessions each year. To fit these in, we need to have sessions every day.

“We do have empty slots at the moment. If anyone feels they can give an afternoon every week or fortnight we would be interested to hear from them.

“The children love coming. Some don’t do any cooking at home and for them it is the first time of getting their hands dirty. If they have seven years at Hempland, they can pick up a lot of good skills.”

Volunteer Kathryn Fenwick said: “You don’t need to be a master chef – you just need a basic knowledge of cooking and baking, and an enthusiasm for working with children. It’s also great fun.”

Volunteers help set up the equipment and supervise five or six pupils, helping them to learn new skills, such as kneading, weighing ingredients, and the safe use of equipment. Recipes, ingredients and worksheets are arranged in advance.

Recipes include apple crumble, leek and potato pasties, rainbow vegetable couscous, Foccacia bread and smoothies.

Earlier this year experts warned that children were storing up major health problems for the future as figures showed high obesity rates among five and 11-year-olds in less well-off wards.

To help in the Cook School, phone Hempland Primary during term time on 01904 421065.