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Cooking for Small Children

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Belinda is a young mother from Massachusetts caring for her first born – a lively baby girl. As a young parent, Belinda found it difficult, confusing and costly trying to navigate the ins and outs of caring for a small child. For further guidance and support, Belinda decided to sign up for one of Cooking Matters’ signature 6-week courses.

Since graduating, Belinda makes more meals at home and she recognizes the nutritional value, as well as visual appeal, of a colorful meal. Belinda makes meals more colorful by adding vegetables like zucchini and peppers – especially in the summertime when she buys fresh produce that is in season and therefore less expensive. Belinda says that she has stopped giving her daughter “fruit snacks – which don’t really have fruit at all!” She also loves the Cooking Matters recipe for homemade granola, which she makes often in large batches to add to yogurt for a healthy and tasty snack. “I buy big jars of yogurt to save money like the class taught me,” Belinda says, who learned the value of unit pricing during the Cooking Matters at the Store tour that is included in a 6-week course. As a once avid user of microwavable dinners, Belinda has decided, “cooking food (yourself) is healthier”. When asked what she thinks the greatest benefit of taking the course is, Belinda immediately turned to her little one – “…it’s healthier for my daughter,” she says. Belinda now has the skills to more easily navigate her journey as a new mother.

Adding Veggies to Kid-Friendly Foods

Marie is a hardworking mother with three children ages 13, 4 and 8 months. Like all parents, Marie cares about preparing healthy, affordable, tasty meals for her family. Working long hours and…

Read More >

Our Programs

Interested in partnering with us? Learn more about our current program offerings and other resources that you can share with parents in your community.

Read More >

How to Partner with Us

If you are a community organization, we may be able to collaborate with you to bring our programs to your parents and caregivers.

Read More >

Who We Are

Through Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters campaign, we run programs with Massachusetts parents and caregivers that cover how to shop for and cook healthy, kid-friendly, and affordable meals.

Read More >
person

Adding Veggies to Kid-Friendly Foods

Author First Name Last Name

Marie is a hardworking mother with three children ages 13, 4 and 8 months. Like all parents, Marie cares about preparing healthy, affordable, tasty meals for her family. Working long hours and creating meals for picky eaters is a challenge. Marie’s children say that healthy meals don’t taste good and don’t like to see vegetables in their food. An additional challenge for Marie is that her children prefer American cuisine like macaroni and cheese and chicken nuggets, rather than traditional food from her native country.

While Marie is quite familiar with Haitian cooking, it is difficult for her to decide what “American” recipes to try and which ingredients to combine to make healthy great tasting meals that her children will actually eat. Marie decided to take a Cooking Matters course to help her learn how to make new recipes and how to elevate the nutritional content of popular meals. In class, Marie learned how to read nutrition labels, stretch her WIC benefits and find the best grocery shopping deals by using unit pricing. Most importantly, she learned how to create healthy recipes that her children love. Marie now makes homemade Mac ‘n cheese with whole grain pasta so that her children get more fiber in their diets. Marie and her children love making pizzas with a healthy assortment of vegetable toppings together. Having her children help with meals makes mealtime less stressful. Marie now has the knowledge and confidence she needs to feed her family. Best of all, Marie can continue learning and trying new recipes by visiting the Cooking Matters website. She loves to stay up to date with the latest recipes, tips, and videos.

Cooking for Small Children

Belinda is a young mother from Massachusetts caring for her first born – a lively baby girl. As a young parent, Belinda found it difficult, confusing and costly trying to navigate the ins and outs of…

Read More >

Our Programs

Interested in partnering with us? Learn more about our current program offerings and other resources that you can share with parents in your community.

Read More >

How to Partner with Us

If you are a community organization, we may be able to collaborate with you to bring our programs to your parents and caregivers.

Read More >

Who We Are

Through Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters campaign, we run programs with Massachusetts parents and caregivers that cover how to shop for and cook healthy, kid-friendly, and affordable meals.

Read More >
person

Massachusetts Families Deserve Delicious, Healthy Food

Cooking Matters is on a mission to make eating healthier easy and affordable for families everywhere.

Our Programs

Interested in partnering with us? Learn more about our current program offerings and other resources that you can share with parents in your community.

Program Delivery Options

Online

We currently offer online programs through Zoom where one of our staff members facilitates a highly interactive 30- or 60-minute Zoom session. These sessions include cooking demonstrations and are designed to have parents and caregivers sharing their own experiences and expertise. Additionally, we can design sessions that have your clients cooking along with our facilitators. For more information on our online programs, look at our Online Programming Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

In-person

We come to you – to your site’s parent conference room, to your local grocery store, to your staff kitchen – and we lead programs in your community, where partners and participants feel most comfortable. Currently, in-person options are extremely limited, yet we look forward to offering these again in the future.

Program Offerings

These are our program offerings for parents and caregivers

Cooking Matters has nine sessions that can be offered in either 30 or 60 minute lengths. All sessions can be offered on their own or as part of a series.

  • 1
    Kids Say Yes to Fruits & Veggies

    This session will discuss pros and cons of using different forms of fruits and vegetables, how to prepare meals and snacks that help kids eat more fruits and vegetables, and share ideas for helping kids enjoy more fruits and vegetables.

    Additional suggestions for a series:

    Give me ideas for picky eaters!, I need kids involved in these lessons, What should I feed my infant?
  • 2
    Making Recipes Work For You

    This session will discuss how to substitute ingredients in recipes, practice using recipe frameworks, and share meal ideas that allow each family member to choose the toppings or ingredients that they enjoy.

    Additional suggestions for a series:

    I need ideas for healthy recipes (one-time session), I need tips for saving money, Help me save time in the kitchen!, I’d love to connect with other parents
  • 3
    No More Mealtime Madness

    This session will introduce fundamentals of maintaining a basic pantry and discuss ways to involve kids in the meal planning to create more buy-in at mealtime.

    Additional suggestions for a series:

    I need ideas for healthy recipes, Give me ideas for picky eaters! (one-time session), I’d love to connect with other parents (one-time session), What should I feed my infant?
  • 4
    Hack Your Snack

    This session will share tips for saving time when buying and preparing healthy snacks, practice making healthy, homemade snacks, reading food labels, and identifying healthier choices when choosing prepackaged snacks, and practice comparing unit prices to save money.

    Additional suggestions for a series:

    I need ideas for healthy recipes, Give me ideas for picky eaters!, I need kids involved in these lessons, Help me save time in the kitchen!
  • 5
    The Family Kitchen

    This session will prepare caregivers to work together with kids in their care to discuss safe, age-appropriate tasks for kids in the kitchen, practice preparing meals or snacks with child-friendly steps, and make healthy meals and snacks that everyone will enjoy.

    Additional suggestions for a series:

    Give me ideas for picky eaters!, I need kids involved in these lessons, What should I feed my infant?
  • 6
    Money-Saver Alert

    Discuss how to use everything that you have (or have access to), practice using ‘hard to utilize’ ingredients in a variety of recipes, and discuss how to save foods that you can’t use right away and how to limit food waste with children while still introducing new foods.

    Additional suggestions for a series:

    I need tips for saving money, Help me save time in the kitchen!, I’d love to connect with other parents
  • 7
    Drink To Your Health

    This session will discuss how to use everything that you have (or have access to), practice using ‘hard to utilize’ ingredients in a variety of recipes, and discuss how to save foods that you can’t use right away and how to limit food waste with children while still introducing new foods.

    Additional suggestions for a series:

    I need ideas for healthy recipes, I need kids involved in these lessons
  • 8
    Feeding in the First Year

    This session will discuss infant feeding options including the safe introduction of solid foods, different food preparation methods that can be adapted for infants at different developmental stages, and practice preparing age-appropriate infant foods alongside recipes for the whole family.

    Suggestions for a one-time session:

    What should I feed my infant?
  • 9
    Cooking Matters at the Store: Shopping on a Budget

    This session will discuss how to buy fruits and vegetables on a budget, and practice comparing unit prices, reading food labels, and reading ingredient labels to find whole grains. 60 minutes only.

    Additional suggestions for a series:

    I need tips for saving money (one-time session), Help me save time in the kitchen!, I’d love to connect with other parents

These are our program offerings for child care professionals
Online Workshops

Support child care providers to serve nutritious meals and teach healthy eating habits to children in their care. This series of participatory trainings can be tailored to fit the needs of child care providers caring for children in low-income households.

These free trainings are offered through Zoom.

LessonLesson DescriptionDurationCompetencies
Creating Positive Mealtime AttitudesPositive early childhood experiences surrounding food and the social environment are critical for shaping healthy eating behaviors. Child care providers will recognize their role in establishing healthy attitudes and behaviors towards food among the children in their care.2 hourUnderstanding the Growth & Development of Children and Youth
Safe Cooking with ConfidenceChildcare providers learn to safely prepare more scratch-cooked meals for the children in their care. This training includes an overview of food skills and Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) approved recipes.1 hourHealth, Safety and Nutrition
Choosing Healthy Foods for KidsChildcare providers play a crucial role in ensuring that children in their care get the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy. In this training, providers learn to make smart choices about the foods they serve to kids through hands-on nutrition-based activities.2 hourHealth, Safety and Nutrition
Meal AppealEarly childhood is an ideal time to instill an appreciation for consuming a variety of healthy foods. In this training, providers will take part in hands-on activities that will show them various ways to encourage acceptance of healthy foods among children in their care.1 hourHealth, Safety and Nutrition
Menu Management on a BudgetIn this training, providers will discuss menu planning and shopping strategies they can use to make the most of their food dollars.1 hourHealth, Safety and Nutrition
Partnering with ParentsChildren are more likely to learn healthy eating behaviors when they receive similar messages at home, in child care, and in the community. This training provides tips and tools for communicating with parents and staff about best practices for feeding children and how to sustain those practices through healthy food policies.1 hourPartnering with Families and Communities
Cooking Matters at the StoreThis training teaches providers how to get the most nutrition within their budget by engaging them to practice food shopping skills to make healthy and affordable choices at the supermarket.1 hourHealth, Safety and Nutrition
Title
Creating Positive Mealtime Attitudes
Description

Positive early childhood experiences surrounding food and the social environment are critical for shaping healthy eating behaviors. Child care providers will recognize their role in establishing healthy attitudes and behaviors towards food among the children in their care.

Duration
2 hour
Competencies

Understanding the Growth & Development of Children and Youth

Title
Safe Cooking with Confidence
Description

Childcare providers learn to safely prepare more scratch-cooked meals for the children in their care. This training includes an overview of food skills and Child and Adult Food Care Program (CACFP) approved recipes.

Duration
1 hour
Competencies

Health, Safety and Nutrition

Title
Choosing Healthy Foods for Kids
Description

Childcare providers play a crucial role in ensuring that children in their care get the nutrients they need to grow and be healthy. In this training, providers learn to make smart choices about the foods they serve to kids through hands-on nutrition-based activities.

Duration
2 hour
Competencies

Health, Safety and Nutrition

Title
Meal Appeal
Description

Early childhood is an ideal time to instill an appreciation for consuming a variety of healthy foods. In this training, providers will take part in hands-on activities that will show them various ways to encourage acceptance of healthy foods among children in their care.

Duration
1 hour
Competencies

Health, Safety and Nutrition

Title
Menu Management on a Budget
Description

In this training, providers will discuss menu planning and shopping strategies they can use to make the most of their food dollars.

Duration
1 hour
Competencies

Health, Safety and Nutrition

Title
Partnering with Parents
Description

Children are more likely to learn healthy eating behaviors when they receive similar messages at home, in child care, and in the community. This training provides tips and tools for communicating with parents and staff about best practices for feeding children and how to sustain those practices through healthy food policies.

Duration
1 hour
Competencies

Partnering with Families and Communities

Title
Cooking Matters at the Store
Description

This training teaches providers how to get the most nutrition within their budget by engaging them to practice food shopping skills to make healthy and affordable choices at the supermarket.

Duration
1 hour
Competencies

Health, Safety and Nutrition

Parents as Peer Educators

This is a limited pilot program where parent leaders can co-host one of our lessons by sharing experiences, cooking recipes (online only), and creating a welcoming atmosphere. Parent co-hosts receive a $25 gift card for each session. Please let us know if you are interested in learning more about this option.

Six-week Courses – Hopefully Spring 2022

Our current COVID-19 protocols do not allow us to offer our six-week courses. We will add more information about this offering when it becomes available again. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Cooking for Small Children

Belinda is a young mother from Massachusetts caring for her first born – a lively baby girl. As a young parent, Belinda found it difficult, confusing and costly trying to navigate the ins and outs of…

Read More >

Adding Veggies to Kid-Friendly Foods

Marie is a hardworking mother with three children ages 13, 4 and 8 months. Like all parents, Marie cares about preparing healthy, affordable, tasty meals for her family. Working long hours and…

Read More >

How to Partner with Us

If you are a community organization, we may be able to collaborate with you to bring our programs to your parents and caregivers.

Read More >

Who We Are

Through Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters campaign, we run programs with Massachusetts parents and caregivers that cover how to shop for and cook healthy, kid-friendly, and affordable meals.

Read More >
person

Massachusetts Families Deserve Delicious, Healthy Food

Cooking Matters is on a mission to make eating healthier easy and affordable for families everywhere.

How to Partner with Us

If you are a community organization, we may be able to collaborate with you to bring our programs to your parents and caregivers.

Our Partnership Model

Cooking Matters Massachusetts collaborates with hundreds of community-based organizations throughout the state to offer group education around feeding young children, print and digital resources to bring education to parents and caregivers outside of group settings, and technical assistance for organizations implementing policy, systems and environmental changes. We look to partner with organizations serving an audience of parents and caregivers who have children ages 0-5 years old and are working with a limited food budget.
Some examples of our partnerships include Head Start centers, WIC clinics, and family resource centers. In this partnership model, we work with you to learn your client’s needs and work together to create a schedule of educational sessions that parents and caregivers feel excited to join.

Where Do Our Programs Take Place?

We currently offer online programs through Zoom where one of our staff members facilitates a highly interactive 30- or 60-minute session that includes a few recipe demonstrations. Our programs are all designed to have parents and caregivers sharing their own experiences and expertise and involve children as needed. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we offered our educational sessions in-person at a partner organization’s site, but currently in-person program options are extremely limited.

Why Would My Clients Want to Participate?

In addition to connecting with other families and learning how to save time, save money, and how to deal with all the challenges that come with feeding young kids, participants will receive either a $10 gift card or $10 value in physical groceries for participating in each lesson.

Will families that speak a language other than English be able to participate?

Our staff can offer programs in English, Spanish or both. We are happy to arrange and cover the cost of interpretation in additional languages with advanced notice.

Can You Help with Recruitment?

We offer pre-made flyers, social media images and pre-written text messages to assist in your recruitment of parents and caregivers of children 0-5 into our interactive educational sessions.

Is There a Financial Commitment?

Some of the costs associated with implementing our educational sessions are covered by our supporters, but Cooking Matters asks our partners to consider sharing some of the programming costs, if able. No organization will be turned away if unable to contribute to a shared programming cost. It is important to note that participants in Cooking Matters sessions cannot be charged for attending.

Every partnership is a little bit different – we look forward to discussing your unique needs. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our staff to begin this important discussion.

Kristin Cunningham
Kcunningham@strength.org
(617) 774-1322

Cooking for Small Children

Belinda is a young mother from Massachusetts caring for her first born – a lively baby girl. As a young parent, Belinda found it difficult, confusing and costly trying to navigate the ins and outs of…

Read More >

Adding Veggies to Kid-Friendly Foods

Marie is a hardworking mother with three children ages 13, 4 and 8 months. Like all parents, Marie cares about preparing healthy, affordable, tasty meals for her family. Working long hours and…

Read More >

Our Programs

Interested in partnering with us? Learn more about our current program offerings and other resources that you can share with parents in your community.

Read More >

Who We Are

Through Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters campaign, we run programs with Massachusetts parents and caregivers that cover how to shop for and cook healthy, kid-friendly, and affordable meals.

Read More >
person

Massachusetts Families Deserve Delicious, Healthy Food

Cooking Matters is on a mission to make eating healthier easy and affordable for families everywhere.

Who We Are

Through Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters campaign, we run programs with Massachusetts parents and caregivers that cover how to shop for and cook healthy, kid-friendly, and affordable meals.

Our Goal

Cooking Matters is a campaign of Share Our Strength that is helping end childhood hunger by inspiring families to make healthy, affordable food choices. Our goal is for all parents and caregivers to have the skills they need to regularly serve nutritious foods during pregnancy and to kids through age five. Working with partners from Boston to the Berkshires, and many places in between, our team delivers programming in the highest need communities throughout the state. Our programs take place at Head Start programs, health centers, community centers, shelters & transitional homes, and schools.

Our Participants

We run our programs with parents and caregivers, especially those with young children ages 0-5. We see the caregivers we work with as experts in their own lives and value their insights. We learn from them as much as they learn from us.

“I am now more aware. I love that I can do these recipes with my kids. I feel great knowing what’s good to buy at the grocery stores. It’s a big step in the right direction for my family and myself. I feel motivated to be healthy and involve my kids. I’m sad to have the course end, but I’m happy to take with me so much knowledge.” – Madeline, Cooking Matters Graduate

Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

Cooking Matters began serving the Boston area in 1994 and now works across the entire state of Massachusetts. Since 1994, we’ve reached over 49,000 participants in Massachusetts through our food skills education programs.

For many years, we ran six-week courses and grocery store tours – for Adults, Parents, and Families – in-person at community-based organizations and with the assistance of community volunteer culinary and nutrition instructors.

With the increased safety concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are unable to offer our in-person six-week courses and have paused all volunteer opportunities for the foreseeable future. Since the spring of 2019, we have introduced newer, flexible programs, offered mostly online. These programs still focus on the food skills listed above but are topic-based and tailored to community-based organizations and parents’ needs. We do continue to offer our Cooking Matters at the Store program in an online format.

Since the Spring of 2019, we have introduced newer, flexible programs, offered online or in-person. These programs still focus on the food skills listed above, but are topic-based and tailored to community-based organizations and parents’ needs. We also continue to offer our Cooking Matters at the Store program online and in-person.

While these changes have altered the Cooking Matters experience, we have noted that offering online opportunities helps caregivers by taking away the need for them to find childcare, transportation, and the extra time to attend a six-week class. Caregivers also get the chance, in some cases, to cook alongside one of our staff facilitators in their own home, using their own tools and space.

Childhood Hunger in MA

Our sister campaign, No Kid Hungry, is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food. In Massachusetts, No Kid Hungry partners with Project Bread, an anti-hunger organization working to expand the Child and Adult Food Care Programs in the state. Here are some ways you can work with No Kid Hungry in Massachusetts:

Cooking for Small Children

Belinda is a young mother from Massachusetts caring for her first born – a lively baby girl. As a young parent, Belinda found it difficult, confusing and costly trying to navigate the ins and outs of…

Read More >

Adding Veggies to Kid-Friendly Foods

Marie is a hardworking mother with three children ages 13, 4 and 8 months. Like all parents, Marie cares about preparing healthy, affordable, tasty meals for her family. Working long hours and…

Read More >

Our Programs

Interested in partnering with us? Learn more about our current program offerings and other resources that you can share with parents in your community.

Read More >

How to Partner with Us

If you are a community organization, we may be able to collaborate with you to bring our programs to your parents and caregivers.

Read More >