Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matter program is comprised of two separate educational experiences: a 6-week class that combines hands-on cooking and nutrition information and a one day in-store class that covers budgeting, nutrition and food selection.
The Idaho Foodbank staff conducts these classes with the assistance of community partners and volunteers. Recently, the Foodbank launched a new satellite pilot program. While still administered by the Foodbank, this approach will enable select community partners to play a larger role in conducting and scheduling their own Cooking Matters classes. Thereby enabling more people to benefit from the program.
The first community partner approved for the satellite pilot is Blaine County Hunger Coalition in Bellevue. This new role fits perfectly with the Coalition’s goal of building community through food. Sharon Dohse, Client Resource and Education Supervisor with the Coalition, has taught Cooking Matters classes and seen firsthand how the program changes lives. “I had a woman in one of my classes who was raised without any understanding or experience of how to use an oven; she was actually afraid of them,” said, Sharon. “By the end of the class she had conquered her fear and felt empowered to provide more nutritious meals for herself and loved ones.” Under this new designation Sharon hopes to conduct two in-store classes and two 6-week cooking classes in 2018.
The Hunger Coalition operates the one-acre Bloom Community Farm in the summer months to build community from diverse social and economic backgrounds through the shared joy of growing, harvesting, and cooking good food. With an abundant source of fresh produce close at hand, Cooking Matters is the perfect bridge between farm and table. “A father raising two kids took the cooking class; he was strictly a meat and potatoes guy,” said Sharon. “Afterwards he admitted to not knowing just how important vegetables were to good health – his and his kids.”
Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters is an important part of the Foodbank’s hunger to health initiative. Through this new satellite approach, valued partners like Blaine County Hunger Coalition will have even greater ability to foster healthier individuals, families and communities.