Saturday 19 August 2017

'Healthy eating is not a privilege - it's a right' - Irish entrepreneur shows passion for nutrition during pitch for €300,000 fund

Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

An Irish woman has taken a leap from her permanent role in a bid to scale up her nutrition start-up that "breaks down barriers".

Aisling Kirwan established her healthy eating business Cooking up Change on a part-time basis some six years ago.

But her passion to create change in healthy eating policies - particularly for the youth - has led to her taking the self-employed leap.

"I've been delivering the programme now for six years while living in rural Wicklow and working mainly in Bray," Aisling told independent.ie.

"My background is in community development over the last 15 years and that's how this project really evolved."

The social entrepreneur believes that, while there are already healthy eating policies within schools, there's no cohesive approach at present whereby you're working with parents.

Aisling Kirwan from Cooking up Change
Aisling Kirwan from Cooking up Change

"So I take a three-pronged approach: I work with parents and then I work with children and then I work with the school," she said.

While the cookery and nutrition course has primarily involved with designated disadvantaged areas and schools, her customer base is much wider than that.

An avid mountain runner herself, Aisling's business involvement with local athletics and GAA groups is continuing to grow.

"For me, the next level is to deliver it more on an online basis. Along with the physical cookery course and nutrition, I want an online program that groups and individuals can refer to as well," she said.

Aisling has taken her social project 'Cook. Eat. Share' to the judging panel at the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awards to establish a greater online presence and allow her to become more sustainable going forward.

"There's any number of people that could do these nutrition courses on a private basis. But I want to reach the people who might think that eating healthier or using wholefoods is something exclusive," she said.

"That's my main mission - to break down those barriers, to make eating accessible to everyone; it's not a privilege, it's a right".

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