- Am I qualified to be a Cooking Matters CO culinary instructor?
- Am I qualified to be a Cooking Matters CO nutrition instructor?
- Am I qualified to be a Cooking Matters CO course assistant?
- What other skills do I need to be a Cooking Matters CO volunteer?
- Are there other non-course volunteer opportunities available?
- What are the steps to becoming a Cooking Matters CO volunteer?
- Where and when are New Volunteer Trainings held?
- How much time will be required of me each week as a course volunteer?
- Can I observe a Cooking Matters CO class before I begin volunteering?
- I volunteered with Cooking Matters CO (formerly Operation Frontline) a long time ago. Do I need to go through the training process again?
- I can’t commit to a 6-week session. Are there other opportunities for me to be involved with Cooking Matters CO?
- I feel strongly about eating organic/shopping locally/eating vegetarian/etc…Can I weave this into my Cooking Matters CO lessons?
- How can becoming a Cooking Matters CO volunteer help me?
- Do volunteers have to do anything other than show up to class each week?
- How long are the courses and when do they meet?
- Where are Cooking Matters CO courses located?
- I watch a lot of cooking shows. Are Cooking Matters CO classes similarly organized?
- How are Cooking Matters CO classes structured?
- What kind of support system exists for volunteers?
- What is the role of the Cooking Matters Course Coordinator?
- How do the instructors work together?
- Are lesson plans provided?
- How do I know where I’ll be volunteering and what kind of space I’ll be working in?
- Who participates in Cooking Matters courses?
- Do all the participants speak English?
- Do participants have cooking and nutrition experience upon attending the course?
- Does Cooking Matters CO recruit participants to take courses?
- Can participants come to any of the classes in the series?
- What do participants receive as part of attending a Cooking Matters CO course series?
- Am I qualified to be a Cooking Matters CO culinary instructor? A volunteer culinary instructor has worked in the culinary industry and/or attended culinary school. You should be proficient in knife skills, basic cooking techniques, kitchen safety/sanitation, and you should be able to improvise and suggest ingredient substitutions. When you sign up to be a culinary instructor with Cooking Matters, we trust your self-assessment that you can successfully and comfortably teach basic cooking skills and techniques to our participants. Current culinary students are welcomed to volunteer but it may be beneficial for them to first fill the course assistant roles for a session before taking the lead in a course.
- Am I qualified to be a Cooking Matters CO nutrition instructor? A volunteer nutrition instructor should have education in nutrition; Registered Dieticians, nutrition professionals, or graduate nutrition students are preferred. The nutrition information provided during Cooking Matters courses is based on MyPyramid and the Dietary Guidelines and is always shared in a group setting. When you sign up to be a nutrition instructor with Cooking Matters, we trust your self-assessment that you can successfully and comfortably teach nutrition lessons. Undergraduate nutrition students are welcome to volunteer but may find that volunteering as a course assistant first may be beneficial before taking the role as lead Nutrition instructor.
- Am I qualified to be a Cooking Matters CO course assistant? There is no specific training or experience needed to be a successful course assistant. The role of the course assistant is to provide support to the lead instructors, be the extra pair of hands during class, and assist with the set-up and clean-up. The assistant is not expected to provide cooking or nutrition information, but an interest in food, cooking, nutrition, and helping others is highly beneficial. The course assistant role can also provide someone aspiring to be a lead culinary or nutrition instructor with the opportunity to experience the 6-week course before determining if the lead instructor role would be suitable.
- What other skills do I need to be a Cooking Matters CO course volunteer? The ability to work as part of a volunteer team, basic public speaking skills, comfort working with people from diverse backgrounds, and the ability to multi-task are ingredients for a great volunteer experience. Flexibility, good improvisation skills, and the ability to laugh at yourself are also necessary. Prior teaching experience is an added bonus!
- Are there other non-course volunteer opportunities available? We aim to use the strengths and talents of our volunteers as best we can. In some cases, volunteers interested in the culinary or nutrition instructor roles may be better suited to begin as course assistants. Otherwise, we have other volunteer opportunities to be filled! These are listed on our “Become A Volunteer” page.
- What are the steps to becoming a Cooking Matters CO volunteer?Prior to volunteering for a Cooking Matters course, visit our“Become A Volunteer” page to see which volunteer role best fits you and fill out the volunteer interest form on that page. We ask all course volunteers to attend a New Volunteer Training and to observe one Cooking Matters class.
- Where and when are New Volunteer Trainings held? New Volunteer Trainings are held on the 4th Monday of each month from 6-8 pm at the Cooking Matters office at 318 West 2nd St., Suite 2 Boston, MA, 02171. Additional trainings are scheduled in the Metro West, Worcester, and Fitchburg areas, and during daytime hours in the Boston area. All training dates can be found on our “Trainings and Events” page. If none of the training times fit your schedule please let us know so we can try to accommodate your needs.
- Can I observe a Cooking Matters CO course before I begin volunteering? Part of the volunteer training process includes a class observation by prospective volunteers. We recommend that class visits happen during the 2nd, 3rd, or 4thCourse Schedule to see when our classes are held and contact Mayra with your preferred dates. week of a course. Take a look at our
- I volunteered with Cooking Matters CO (formerly Operation Frontline) a long time ago. Do I need to go through the training process again? In addition to our name change, our curricula have changed, and we have a lot of new resources available to help train our volunteers. If you haven’t volunteered with Cooking Matters CO for a few years, you might want some training to familiarize yourself with our new curricula. If you’d like to attend a New Volunteer Training, find a date on the “Trainings and Events” page and contact Mayra.
- I can’t commit to a 6-week session. Are there other opportunities for me to be involved with Cooking Matters CO? Yes! If you are interested in being a course volunteer but cannot commit to teaching a 6-week course, you might be able to share the role with a friend or associate. Additionally, we do have volunteer opportunities that do not necessitate a 6-week commitment: help us plan events, staff tables at health fairs, photograph our classes, and help us in other capacities. We aim to put the strengths and talents of our volunteers to good use.
- I feel strongly about eating organic/shopping locally/eating vegetarian/etc…Can I weave this into my Cooking Matters MA lessons? We love that our volunteers are passionate about food and nutrition, but please remember that many of our participants are just beginning to think about making healthier food and nutrition choices. We encourage our volunteers to share their passion and their healthy eating tips in a way that invites discussion and different perspectives. All nutrition lessons are based on MyPyramid and the Dietary Guidelines, and all class recipes use readily accessible and affordable ingredients.
- How can becoming a Cooking Matters CO volunteer help me? Being a Cooking Matters volunteer should be a fun and rewarding experience for you. You’ll meet new people, make connections in the culinary and nutrition fields, and build your public-speaking and people skills. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re making a positive impact in your community while furthering your passion for serving others. In fact, if you instruct 15 courses, you’ll be inducted into our Volunteer Hall of Fame and get to accompany us to our annual Share Our Strength Conference of Leaders in Washington, DC—quite an honor for our best volunteers.
- How much time will be required of me each week as a course volunteer? 3-4 hours per week. (2 hours of class time, 30 minutes before and after for set-up and clean-up, and maybe an hour of prep)
- Do volunteers have to do anything other than show up to class each week? In addition to working with the other course volunteers throughout the 6-week session, you’ll work closely with a Cooking Matters course coordinator. The course coordinators will call or email you to elicit recipe suggestions, resource needs, or to plan for the coming week. Volunteers are expected to communicate with their Cooking Matters course coordinator as necessary throughout the weeks regarding recipes and class logistics. You should read the instructor guide prior to class to prepare yourself for the day’s recipes or nutrition lesson. As a teacher would, have a plan for how you want your part of the class to be organized. Arriving to each class at least 30 minutes ahead of time will allow you to prepare and set up your space properly.
- How long are the courses and when do they meet? Each course meets for two hours, once a week, for six weeks. Courses are scheduled Monday through Friday, 9am-8pm. The course will meet at the same day and time each week. It is not a drop-in program—volunteers and participants are asked to attend all six weeks.
- Where are Cooking Matters CO courses located? The majority of courses are offered in the Denver metro area. However, the program is expanding to be state wide. We currently also offer courses in …. GET MAP and CONTACT INFO for all state programs
- I watch a lot of cooking shows. Are Cooking Matters CO classes similarly organized? Cooking shows aren’t usually interactive and often involve a chef demonstrating dishes without any assistance. Course participants are not an audience but rather are fellow chefs, bakers, and line cooks. Everyone is working as team. While the culinary instructor may initially demonstrate how to properly measure a cup of flour or cut an onion, the purpose of our classes is for our participants to get hands-on cooking experience and instruction.
- How are Cooking Matters CO classes structured? The volunteer team arrives no later than 30 minutes before the start of class to prepare and set up the kitchen and classroom space for the participants. Approximately half of the class time is spent having a discussion-based nutrition lesson, and the other half of class time is spent preparing recipes from our curricula that reflect the day’s nutrition message. Clean-up is usually finished within 30 minutes of the end of class. Classes for adults and for young parents include a grocery store tour during the fifth week.
- How do the instructors work together? Cooking Matters CO volunteers work as a team with the course coordinator. The classes are co-led by the culinary and nutrition instructors. Although the class time includes a cooking lesson and a nutrition lesson, the goal is that the class does not feel like two separate classes. While each instructor is “in charge” of his/her portion of the lesson and serves as the primary facilitator of that component, both instructors should be involved throughout the class time. Reinforcing key nutrition concepts while cooking, and vice versa, will help the participants understand the connection between the two lessons. It can be a bit of a dance—and sometimes toes are stepped on—but ideally this team teaching approach enables the instructors to learn from each other and for the participants to have access to the most accurate and relevant information throughout the entire class time. For more information on how to teach a successful Cooking Matters course, check out our training videos
- What is the role of the Cooking Matters Course Coordinator? Each Cooking Matters course is assigned a course coordinator. The course coordinator is present at each class and is the “go-to” support resource for our volunteers. The coordinator serves as the liaison between Cooking Matters CO and the community organizations that host our courses. The course coordinator’s job is to make sure that each class goes as smoothly as possible by communicating with the course volunteers each week regarding class planning and timing. The course coordinator brings all necessary kitchen equipment, ingredients, handouts, and class materials based on instructor and class needs.
- What kind of support system exists for volunteers? The Cooking Matters staff is committed to providing our volunteers with the best possible experience and appreciates any feedback that can help us make the experience even better for all our volunteers. Additionally there is a network of Colorado volunteers that can support each other and share tips for success.
- Are lesson plans provided? The national Cooking Matters staff has developed curricula for all volunteer instructors and course participants. Nutrition content is based on MyPyramid and the Dietary Guidelines; recipes follow pre-determined guidelines that include criteria such as use of accessible, low-cost, nutritious ingredients. Our volunteer culinary and nutrition instructors are provided with an instructor guide that includes lesson plans, activities, handouts, and recipes for each week. The different Cooking Matters curricula offered in MA are: Cooking Matters for Adults, Cooking Matters for Families, Cooking Matters for Kids, Cooking Matters for Young Parents, and Cooking Matters for Teens.
- How do I know where I’ll be volunteering and what kind of space I’ll be working in? The Cooking Matters course schedule is available online and lists any available volunteer opportunities. After you’ve been assigned a Cooking Matters course based on your preference and availability, the course coordinator will email you a Site Information form that includes pictures and/or descriptions of the site’s kitchen and teaching space. While some sites are equipped with commercial or otherwise fabulous kitchens, other sites have smaller kitchen spaces or none at all. (If there is no “actual” kitchen space the coordinator will bring the necessary portable equipment to class like induction burners, toaster ovens, blenders, etc.). Similarly, not every classroom is ideal and we often rearrange the room to make the space fit the needs of the class.
- Who participates in Cooking Matters CO courses? Cooking Matters courses are for lower-income families and individuals. The majority of our participants receive SNAP benefits (formerly Food Stamps) and may access programs like WIC or local food pantries. Our different curricula serve different age and lifestyle groups from a wide range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Not everyone shares the same views about food, nutrition, or eating, so it is important to be sensitive to different beliefs and cultures.
- Do all the participants speak English? No. All Cooking Matters curricula are available in English and in Spanish. If the participants do not speak English the organization hosting the course provides an interpreter.
- Do participants have cooking and nutrition experience upon attending the course? Participant experience varies. While some of our participants may have very little cooking experience, others have cooked for years and are looking for new techniques and recipes. For many of our participants the Cooking Matters course is often their introduction to basic nutrition principles.
- Does Cooking Matters CO recruit participants to take courses? The community organizations that we partner with to host courses are responsible for recruiting participants who they feel will benefit from attending a nutrition-based cooking course.
- Can participants come to any of the classes in the series? Cooking Matters is not a drop-in program so we encourage participants to attend all six classes of a course from the beginning. Participants may not join the course after the 2nd week, and if a participant attends at least four out of six classes in a course, he or she is considered a “graduate” of that curriculum.
- What do participants receive as part of attending a Cooking Matters CO course series? At the end of each class, participants receive the day’s recipes and adult participants receive a bag of groceries containing the ingredients needed to make the dish at home for their families. All course participants receive a copy of the course curriculum—a resource containing nutrition, food safety and food budgeting information and numerous healthy, low-cost recipes. During the last class, anyone who has attended enough classes to graduate will also receive a certificate of completion and a few gifts.
- Who hosts Cooking Matters MA courses? Cooking Matters MA has partnered with over 170 different community organizations such as ABCD Head Start, Associated Early Childcare & Education, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Boston, Frisoli Youth Center, South Middlesex Opportunity Council and Growing Places Garden Project.
- How do we choose which organizations to partner with? All the organizations who host Cooking Matters courses are non-profit, community-based organizations that serve low-income populations. These sites recognize that the population that they serve could benefit from attending a nutrition-based cooking course and have the necessary space and/or facilities to offer our courses.