Cooking Matters is a campaign of Share Our Strength, an organization working to end hunger and poverty. Cooking Matters helps low-income families learn to shop and cook healthier. It's a big job, but we're not alone. We believe that everyone has a strength to share to help ensure every individual can live a healthy and productive life.
Nationwide, 464,000 families have been inspired to make healthy food choices through Cooking Matters courses and tours. In Colorado, 110,000 low-income parents, caregivers, and families have participated in programming over nearly 25 years. Cooking Matters Colorado raises 100% of its budget locally, ensuring all funds are allocated for Colorado-specific purposes like food skills education materials (particularly healthy take-home and in-class groceries).
Nutrition education can be a lifeline for families struggling with hunger. With one in six, or 16%, of CO children living in food-insecure households, Cooking Matters Colorado (CMCO) focuses on children most at risk of hunger, providing food skills education to parents, family members, and other caregivers who affect eating habits inside the home and out.
The priority audience is caregivers with children between ages zero and five. Moms of young children are a critical part of the programming effort because they heavily influence family food decisions, from shopping to meal prep, and are often more open to making lasting changes toward a healthier lifestyle. Furthermore, since children under five spend an average of 36 hours/week in care, CMCO has adopted a parent and professional caregiver strategy to ensure access to healthy food for vulnerable children in different settings.
Founded in 1993, Cooking Matters nationally has served more than 265,000 families. Cooking Matters Colorado has been providing crucial nutrition education skills to families throughout the state since the early 90's reaching over 100,000 families.
Cooking Matters programs include:
* Hands-On, Six-Week Courses: Community partners that serve low-income families offer six-week courses to adults, kids and families. Each course is team-taught by a volunteer chef and nutrition educator and covers meal preparation, grocery shopping, food budgeting and nutrition. Adult and teen participants take home a bag of groceries at the end of each class.
* Interactive Grocery Store Tours: Cooking Matters at the Store tours provide families with hands-on education as they shop for food, giving them skills to compare foods for cost and nutrition. Participants learn how to plan and budget for healthy, affordable, and delicious meals for their families.
* Childcare Professionals Trainings: teach caregivers of young children healthy meal preparation, food safety and how to help children try new foods. Participants learn to create a positive food environment for the kids in their care.
* Educational Tools: Free toolkits, kids' handouts and recipes are available at CookingMatters.org and in the Cooking Matters smartphone app.
For nearly 20 years, Cooking Matters Colorado's signature gala, Chefs Up Front, has provided a way for the community to help end childhood hunger by inspiring families to make healthy food choices, while enjoying a four-course meal prepared tableside by a beloved Colorado chef. For more information about Chefs Up Front, visit chefsupfrontco.com.
No child should grow up hungry in America, but one in six children nationally, and here in Colorado, struggles with hunger.
Cooking Matters Not Only Reduces Food-Insecurity, It Inspires Creativity
Since El Paso County resident, Rolando, completed a Cooking Matters course, he, his wife, their nine-year old and three-year old have been enjoying their new kitchen routines and meal variety. Now, Rolando's kids help at mealtime, washing vegetables, chopping food, among other tasks. They combine new foods and get creative adding ingredients such as pineapple or mango to healthy dishes because the kids love anything with a sweet addition. Rolando really enjoyed the lesson about the different ways to prepare vegetables, and particularly enjoys being able to make salads quickly and inexpensively.
Rolando explained the extent of the budgeting lessons in the class, "You shopped for everything and could prepare [a meal] for $10 for a family of four. And you could have leftovers for the next day."
Rolando's wife encouraged him to sign up for the course since his work schedule did not conflict with the timing. Rolando works early and is off in the afternoons, when he cares for the kids and prepares meals with his wife's help. Originally from Peru, Rolando grew up mainly eating rice, potatoes, and meat. He never helped cook as a child. He explains, "They didn't let us. It's not like now. Now they invite you, or they advise you to invite your children to participate in whatever task in the kitchen, but it wasn't like that before."
Cooking Matters is proud to serve families like Rolando with food skills education to help end childhood hunger. Kids need good food to grow up healthy. Cooking Matters helps parents and caregivers struggling with limited food budgets learn how to shop for and cook healthy, affordable meals.