The Cooking Matters at the Store program teaches families how to make healthier, more affordable food choices by comparing nutrition labels and unit prices of products when grocery shopping. Cooking Matters, in partnership with Share Our Strength and community groups, as well as public and non-profit organizations across the country, is a program provided to low-income families in various locations. These locations include schools, shelters, apartment living, grocery stores, public health facilities, libraries and more.
Cooking Matters encourages teachers and participants to have open discussions about nutrition-related topics while considering different financial situations, cultural preferences and even allergies. There is a misconception that eating healthy is expensive and that only shopping at high-end grocery stores qualifies as living healthy. Through open conversations with participants about their current thoughts on healthy eating, teachers are able to introduce them to a new perspective on leading a healthy life by incorporating nutritious meals into their daily schedules while on a budget. As a Cooking Matters instructor, I found the program to be just as beneficial to me as it is to the participants. Not only has it motivated me to research popular diet misconceptions, it has helped me build upon my counseling and education skills. This program has given me the opportunity to share with others the importance of nutrition, as well as demystify the notion that eating healthy cannot be done while on a strict budget. One of the most valuable themes I learned from participants of the program is that eating healthy is important for living longer, happier lives. I believe that when we increase our knowledge about food we can solve the issue of hunger and improve overall health, all while saving money in the process.
Food insecurity is an important area of focus for me. After participating in this program, I am eager to share what I've learned, now that I have the insight and knowledge to help others restore their hope and ability to support their families.