The following post continues a series of PBF reader-submitted stories about their positive experiences out and about in the community with volunteer organizations.
Below you will find stories from Trace and Alli about their work with Cooking Matters, an organization that offers courses to teach participants how to select nutritious and low-cost ingredients and prepare them in ways that provide the best nourishment possible to their families.
You may visit the Cooking Matters website and learn more by clicking below:
Cooking Matters is a national program that brings people together with food professionals to learn how to shop for and prepare real food. Chefs, culinary instructors, and food blogging HR guys like me, can give back by teaching individuals, families, and even grade school kids how to eat better.
It seems that there are more and more families that only cook on special occasions, but everyone knows that they should be eating better. Many people do not believe that they have the time, or knowledge to put healthy real food on the table.
This is a huge misconception.
Food does not have to be complicated or extravagant to be real. Frozen veggies, whole wheat pasta and a jar of sauce is a quick, simple meal and so much better for you than frozen dinners or drive through.
My last class was 20 extremely excited third through fifth graders and for 6 weeks (2 hours per week), we took over the school cafeteria, learning together how to make non-dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, black bean burritos with fresh salsa, and even spinach smoothies.
I even modified a Cooking Matters recipe recently on my blog Cooking with Trace. My advice is to find a way to volunteer for something you love and giving back is easy.
In spring 2011 I volunteered as a nutrition instructor for an adults Cooking Matters class and was an incredible experience it was. The participants were active and engaged, asking tough questions and pushing themselves to learn more about what they could do to provide healthier meals and snacks for their families. Class truly was an exchange of ideas between participants and instructors.
I taught about proper nutrition and the women (mainly Central American immigrants) explained about their food culture and preparation methods. Working with them to stretch their dollar as far as possible, both financially and nutritionally, was a great experience that helped me to appreciate just how simply we could live. I loved being able to help give them the tools to help them build healthier lives and loved the wisdom they imparted and suggestions for my own culinary endeavors.
Cooking Matters is a great program providing hands-on experience to the individuals it serves. I moved cities this past year but am still gearing up to volunteer with Cooking Matters again. If you are considering volunteering, don’t be nervous! There is great support and teaching materials provided by the program. Additionally, I have loved incorporating some of the healthier and affordable recipes into my weekly rotation as well.
Additional reader volunteer stories: