While growing up, healthy eating was part of my every day life. My brother and I were nearly always welcomed home with a homemade dinner. Fast food was something reserved only for road trips up North, and frozen dinners were not something I experienced until my early college years. But unfortunately, families like mine are now the exception rather than the rule. With the presence of a McDonald’s on every corner and the availability of frozen meals at incredibly cheap prices, eating healthfully is at risk for becoming a thing of the past. This has been especially true for lower income families that need to provide meals on a stricter budget. In our nation, 15.7 million children are living in poverty and 18.6 million rely on food stamps, and with the widely accepted idea that healthy food is more expensive, it is no wonder that even the children that do get enough to eat often suffer from poor nutrition.
But luckily, there is an organization aiming to change all of this. Last week, the managers and volunteers of Michigan’s division of Cooking Matters invited me and 9 other Metro-Detroit based food bloggers and writers to learn about the organization and partake in one of their cooking classes. Cooking Matters is an organization that aims to “debunk the myth that cooking healthy is expensive.” In connection with the nationally recognized “Share Your Strength” Movement, Cooking Matters offers a series of cooking classes that show both children and adults that cooking healthy is not only possible on a tight budget, but can also help you save money. The classes cover topics such as basic nutrition and food budgeting, giving its participants the tools to provide their families with weeks worth of healthy, cost effective meals. The classes are taught by volunteer chefs and nutritionists who share tips on how to spend wisely in order to provide nourishing meals. Simple tips like eating less protein and eating more fiber-rich vegetables not only save families money, but lead them on a healthier path.
This organization has helped thousands of lower income families and provided them with the tools to provide themselves with the a healthier future. But the organization needs help. In Michigan alone there is a waiting list of 90 agencies hoping to get started with their own Cooking Matters programs, but there are not enough volunteers to sustain them. So how can we help? By getting involved. And no need to worry about your lack of cooking or nutrition expertise being a barrier, because Share Your Strength welcomes any help they can get. Because “Share Your Strength” is simply a collective of people willing to share whatever strength they have. And as Cooking Matters’ Social Media Coordinator Dorothy Hernandez said, “whatever strength you might possess, Cooking Matters will find a way to use it.”