Cooking Matters courses improve participants’ food choices, eating habits, cooking skills and food budgeting and shopping practices in the short- and longer terms.
Evaluations and studies prove it. The most recent was published in the July/August 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
Since 1993, Cooking Matters and our volunteer instructors—a corps thousands strong—have conducted more than 4,000 cooking-based nutrition and financial-planning courses, and helped more than 45,000 low-income families in communities across the nation learn how to eat better for less.
During the 2007 program year, Cooking Matters offered a record 437 hands-on courses to 5,202 low-income adults, teens and kids. Each of these courses made a notable and positive difference in the lives of the adults, teens and kids who took them: The courses gave them skills and knowledge that will help provide them and their families with healthy food where they live, learn and play.
- Eating Right: Teaches low-income adults how to prepare and shop for healthy meals on a limited budget. Nearly 80% of participants eat more vegetables after the class than they did before. “I’ve started to pay more attention to what foods I eat and what my kids eat,” says an Eating Right participant from Ithaca, N.Y. “Hopefully they will be eating healthier and making better food choices at a younger age than I did.”
- The Power of Eating Right: Teaches teens how to make healthy food choices and prepare healthy meals and snacks. The average participant eats a wider variety of foods and chooses healthier snacks, and 90% of participants say they have improved their cooking skills as a result of the course. “I think it was the best class I’ve been to,” report a participant from New York City. “I have always felt welcome and I enjoyed eating and learning about eating right [in a way] that tastes good.”
- Kids Up Front: Teaches kids aged 8 to 12 about healthy eating, how healthy eating affects their performance and how to make easy, nutritious foods at home. 94% of participants say that they have learned at least one new thing about cooking. “If only every kid could take the class,” says a young participant from Boston. “Instead of going out to fast food, we could cook equally good food. This is a great program.”
- Side By Side: Teaches school-age children (ages 5 to 13) with their parents about healthy eating and the importance of eating together as a family. 83% of participant families report that they have prepared the healthy recipes at home that they tried in class. “Recipes were great!,” exclaims a mom-participant from Manchester, N.H. “Groceries going home made making recipes much more feasible. I try to add veggies and fruits to each meal more than before. I loved cooking with my kids!”
- Step Up to Eating Right: Teaches teen parents how to make healthy food choices and prepare nutritious foods for themselves and their babies. Course graduates have doubled their use of Nutrition Facts labels, and 70% say they now eat more vegetables. “I never used to eat very healthy because I never liked the food,” admits an Elmira, N.Y. participant. “But you have taught me how to make healthy foods that tastes good.”
- Eating Well: Teaches people living with HIV/AIDS and their caretakers how to plan, shop for and prepare healthy, safe meals that meet their special nutritional needs. Graduates use the Nutrition Facts label more often, make meals with a wider variety of healthy foods and eat at least three meals a day. “The recipes were easy to prepare and within my budget to make at home,” says a District of Columbia participant. “I also love the ‘chef knife’ instruction. That will stay with me for life.”
- Saving Smart, Spending Smart: Teaches low-income families about basic household budgeting, banking, credit and wise food-shopping practices. 70% of participants say that they have learned how to build good credit, 65% now track expenses and 60% have set financial goals. “I just want to say ‘Thank you so much’ for taking your time to teach me how to build my credit back up and get my life back together,” says a Denver participant.