Cooking with the Coop  - This post is written by Education Officer, Cat Jessop

Blimey, Christmas might already feel like a distant memory now, but today’s snow at Rochdale Pioneers Museum has given us some festive feelings. We want to snuggle into our scarfs with our hands wrapped round a warm drink with a packet of biscuits at the ready.  If only we had some of our delightful ‘Cooking with the Co-op’ activity packs left and hadn’t started the year with foolish ‘avoid the biscuit jar’ promises!

Back in December 2021 we were delighted to be awarded money from Rochdale Council’s ‘Holiday Activity Fund’ to create 200 activity packs.  We wanted to base activities on encouraging basic skills as well as our history and each carefully crafted pack contained a vintage 1970's ginger biscuit recipe straight from CWS as well as all the equipment and dry ingredients needed to make a batch of fabulous Pioneer Gingerbread Men.  It is just as important to have access to the equipment for baking as well as the ingredients and once you have made something simple, it is much easier to try a new recipe at home.

We included a co-op quiz packed with questions about quirky co-op traditions around Christmas - after all, lots of working class communities in the past relied on the 'divi' (dividend) they earned from their co-op membership to buy Christmas presents and special festive food. 

The packs were put together by our team of Co-op Christmas Elves (also known as museum staff) before being distributed to families at community centres, schools and sure start centres in central Rochdale.

Counting up sibling groups as well as individuals, over 350 children and young people benefited from using the activity packs...with 350 people making batches of 12 Pioneer Gingerbread Men?  Well, that’s a heck of a lot of festive food being shared on cold winter days.  Now, where’s that packet of biscuits? With such an inspiring story of creative Co-op cooking it seems rude not to enjoy something tasty with our brews after all…

We’d like to say a huge thanks to Rochdale Council’s ‘Fit and Fed’ team for their help in funding this project.  Throughout the year the Fit and Fed Team provide out of school activities and meals for children and young people in Rochdale who are in receipt of free school meals.

Happy New Year from all of us!