Culinary Fixer Ali Imdad from Birmingham is encouraging students to turn away from takeaways and instead opt for home-cooked meals.
His story was broadcast on ITV News Central on Thursday 8th May.
The 26-year-old* former Great British Bake Off contestant hopes to show students how much of a difference a healthy meal can make.
‘I first got into cooking when I was at university,’ explains Ali.
‘I found takeaways too expensive and they weren’t good for me, so I started making my own food.
‘The thing I love the most is the social aspect. I think food is one of the few things that can actually bring people together.’
Ali believes that many students eat junk food because they think it’s the cheaper option, but hopes to show with his campaign that good wholesome food doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming to prepare.
In addition to highlighting the nutritional benefits, he also wants more young people to recognise that eating well can help with their ability to study.
‘If you can see fresh ingredients, you know what you’re going to be cooking with. It’s healthy.
‘It's known that what you eat plays a role in how you feel.
‘If you rely on junk food, it is going to impact on how you learn and concentrate.’
Student Welfare Officer at the University of Birmingham Sam Noakes appears in the broadcast to lend weight to Ali’s message, adding:
‘Exam time is when students particularly eat junk food because it’s quick and easy.
‘But actually that’s the time when they need to be concentrating and when eating healthily is going to have the most impact.’
With the help of Fixers, Ali created cards with simple recipes on to encourage others to try their hand at cooking and held a cooking demonstration for students at the university.
Many attending the event said they were encouraged to give it a go, as the meals were ‘quick and easy’ to prepare.
Ali adds: ‘If I can get a few people who don’t normally cook and I change their mind and make them keen, that would be a great success for me.’
This project was supported by the Youth Social Action Fund (YSAF).
*Note: Fixers sometimes go beyond the 16-25 year age bracket while working on their Fix.
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Click here to see what Ali is serving up on his bite-size recipe cards.