In Hong Kong, roughly 1 million people live below the poverty line – this means they live on below HK$120 everyday. This makes it extremely difficult to pay for basic necessities, such as shelter, food, clean water and transport. As a result, ISSJ’s poverty subgroup decided that, as part of raising awareness during Island School’s first ever Poverty Week, it would be appropriate to hold a ‘below the poverty line’ cooking competition for Y11 GCSE students.

In pairs, the students were randomly assigned a different cheap canned item; these included of corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, lentils, baked beans, chickpeas, coconut milk, tuna, stewed pork or beetroot. They also had access to a limited variety of other cheap ingredients, such as rice and vegetables. Their task was, as in any cooking competition, to create the best dish – but in this case, ‘best’ referred not only to creativity, presentation and taste, but also nutrition. On a very tight budget, it is vital that meals are satisfying and provide you with all the nutrients that you need.

It was an intense competition: the students had only half an hour to cook, and with only a few minutes of brainstorming. Nonetheless, every pair exhibited creativity, skill and diligence. Every dish was delicious and nutritious – but most importantly, cheap. The feedback was also very positive. The students said that although it was difficult to cook with such a limited pantry while considering things like price and nutrition, they learnt more about budgeting and developed more appreciation for what they had.

Since all the dishes were so innovative and tasty, it was difficult for the judges to decide on a winner. However, Chiara Dadamo (11W) and Jennifer Frawley (11F) were ultimately victorious with their vegetarian Thai red curry, which they had made with canned coconut milk. Congratulations!


Photos and article by Julia Mulrooney



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