Cooking Matters Massachusetts
Providing nutrition-based cooking classes to low-income families
A Participant’s Story: Mirta
The Cooking Matters spotlight this month is on Mirta, a participant in a recent Cooking Matters healthy cooking workshop and grocery store tour in partnership with Lawrence Community Connections.
When Mirta saw a flier at Lawrence Community Connections advertising a two-part Cooking Matters workshop she immediately signed herself up because she wanted to learn how to cook healthy and affordable meals for herself and her family. Recognizing this would be a fun way to spend some more time with her sister she signed her up as well. The first week, a group of mothers and childcare providers came together to learn a few healthy, kid-friendly recipes along with the skills to make healthier food choices. The following week the group met again at a local grocery store for a guided tour.
Mirta didn’t think it would get better than finding her new favorite pancake recipe, but was astonished by the amount of information she learned on the grocery store tour. “I liked the shopping tour the best. It was VERY interesting and I learned about things that I bought before, but never paid attention to”. Prior to going on the tour Mirta never took the time to look at the products she was buying. But after, Mirta realized that “we just need to take our time when we go grocery shopping. Compare prices, compare brands, whether something is 100% juice, or no salt added. You need to be careful. It might take you a little longer to shop, but you can save a lot of money in the long run.”
Since attending the workshop, Mirta’s eating and shopping habits have become healthier. She adds more vegetables and fruits to dishes she’s been making for years. She tries to measure out ingredients, rather than cooking in big quantities, so that she can eat appropriate serving sizes and not waste any food. She reads labels and compares unit prices and is finding ways to share her new skills with the community.
Mirta is the co-facilitator of a breast cancer support group in Lawrence. Immediately following her two-part series, Mirta scheduled to bring the program to the group. Mirta also became a tour facilitator, so that she can lead grocery store tours for the support group, and others in the community. Mirta believes that if the women from the support group—her ladies—can incorporate all the cooking matters that she learned, then they will be able to tolerate their treatment and the side effects much better; it may also help with their risk of any infections. And it could even help them recover faster. “The more you learn the better you feel. That’s what I told my ladies”.