The Idaho Food Bank introduced a new program to East Idaho that helps teens learn how to cook healthy meals on a budget.
Cooking Matters has been in Boise for the past year and a half, and 4 months ago the Food Bank decided to bring it to Pocatello. It’s a 6 week long course, 2 hours a week, and it focuses on healthier ways to cook meals that still don’t break the bank.
“I think in our society today everything is so fast, and we just have a tendency to do what’s easy and eat at restaurants and buy foods that are quickly prepared. This gives these teenagers and adults the opportunity to learn how to cook and know that they can have it taste really good and still have it be healthy for them,” said one of the program’s volunteers and dietetics student at Idaho State University Becky Woodhouse.
Eating healthy can seem expensive compared to the drive through dollar menu, but this course proves that that isn’t always the case. With the help from local experts, the students get to broaden their nutritional horizons.
“To help us teach and give the participants of this course the best chance of success, we go out and we get expert chefs expert nutritionists from the community to help us teach the course,” said the Food Bank’s Nutrition Education Specialist who heads the program, Chris Sherrod.
The Food Bank chooses who participates from those that use their services and the school system, and so far there have been 4 sets of classes to graduate, 3 for teens and 1 for adults, all learning how to create delicious recipes from healthy ingredients.
One of the program’s recent graduates, Ember Ashby, shared with us, “We made a vegetable bean quesadilla, hamburger chili, and really healthy stuff. Lots of vegetables and we actually make vegetables taste good, I’ve been able to put more vegetables in my food at home.”
The program’s main focus is to teach some new cooking tricks, but there are a few extra habits that start to present themselves and continue after this class concludes.
“I think it’s important to bring back tradition in the family. To bring back cooking together, and eat together, and all of that stuff kind of helps out every aspect of the family, it kind of brings families closer together,” added Sherrod.
The Cooking Matters program is always looking for volunteers either in the kitchen or classroom, so give the Food Bank a call if you can share your expertise.