Cohealth’s Cook to Connect program empowering local community

Cook to Connect Carlton

In response to the increasing cost of living, cohealth in partnership with the City of Melbourne has launched a cooking class aimed at helping disadvantaged locals learn to prepare nutritious and affordable meals.

The Cook to Connect group, held fortnightly at Carlton’s Kathleen Syme Library, caters to more than 30 participants from marginalised communities, including those experiencing homelessness, insecure housing, and from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Led by cohealth dietitians and peer workers with lived experience of homelessness, the class provides a platform for participants to not only enhance their cooking skills, but also forge new connections and friendships.

“While our libraries are renowned for their book collections, they also offer inclusive and welcoming spaces to collaborate and learn,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.


Melburnians are cooking up a storm at our Cook to Connect classes – embracing the opportunity to serve up budget-friendly, healthy meals while bringing people together.


Since June 2023 Cook to Connect has hosted more than 320 participants over 10 sessions.

Damian Zap, a participant in the program, has been attending the sessions since November last year.

Despite initially stumbling into the program with little enthusiasm for cooking, Damian has now embraced the sessions wholeheartedly.

“It was really comfortable, and a lot of people we’re inclusive straight away,” Damian told Inner City News.“I didn’t know the name of the thing when I showed up, I had no idea it was called Cook to Connect, but it definitely does do that.”



Held fortnightly on Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm, the free sessions lead participants through a variety of cuisines each week, building confident cooks and providing an opportunity to connect with the local community. •

“It’s a different country each time, we sort of take a trip around the world,” Damian said.

“There’ll be something like five different meals, including one dessert, and one of the organisers will put on some music in the background that matches the cuisine, whether it’s Italian music or Sri Lankan.”

The program is a joint initiative by the City of Melbourne and CoHealth, and part of council’s wider libraries program of events and activations, including Local Lunch Club at Kathleen Syme Library.

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