Does Cooking Matter?

Our March 21st blogpost (see here), asked the question, "Will a home-cooked meal solve all problems?" People are quick to say that cooking a good meal at home would make families healthier. However, they overlook the fact that not all families are created equal - they do not all have the same time and resources that would make a healthy, home-cooked meal attainable. Share Our Strength is an organization whose mission is to end poverty and hunger worldwide. Through one of their campaigns, Cooking Matters, they offer a six-week course that focuses on shopping smarter at the grocery store, reading nutrition information to make healthier choices, and cooking flavorful, affordable meals.

Knowing that families report that a barrier to cooking at home is the rising costs of healthy food, Cooking Matters at the Store takes participants on a 1.5 hour tour of a grocery store. During this tour, they learn how to read food labels, compare unit cost of products, find whole grain foods, and ways to buy produce. At the end of the tour, they take a $10 Challenge using the knowledge they just gained to shop for a meal for a family of four for under $10.

Through their hands-on cooking courses, participants meet for two hours once a week for six weeks with a volunteer chef and a nutrition educator to learn about meal prep, budgeting and shopping, and nutrition. They cover knife techniques, reading nutrition labels, and making a meal for a family of four for under $10. Each week participants take home a bag of groceries to practice those recipes they were taught in the class. Cooking Matters offers classes through their seven specialized curricula tailored for adults, families with young children, children 3rd-5th grade, teens, families and children together, child-care professionals, and a supplemental course for child-care professionals working in center-based vs. home-based settings.

Cooking Matters offers free, downloadable educational tools on their website. These tools are based on the cooking courses and grocery store tours and can be used by anyone in any community.

Cooking Matters has partnered with Penn State Extension's Better Kid Care, to offer some of their programming online. The basic course for child-care professionals is now a module offered on the Better Kid Care website as a professional development opportunity.

So to answer the question, "Does cooking matter?", yes, it can make a huge difference in the health and well-being of a family. Through Cooking Matters, Share Our Strength is providing a way to make those healthy, delicious meals more attainable for families everywhere.