The Dish on Nutrition: Cooking Matters for Adults at Beyond Housing: Rosie Shields Manor

by Anisha Glanton

In honor of Nutrition Education Month, I’m sharing my journey as a volunteer with Cooking Matters. Follow along with my adventures in cooking and the life-changing impact on our participants!

When I first began volunteering with Cooking Matters classes, I was surprisingly nervous. I have never been too comfortable in the kitchen because recipes intimidate me. Often times,  I did not understand what the instructions were asking me to do and they used terms I had never heard of. The recipes from Cooking Matters, however, are written for inexperienced cooks and make preparing meals less of a culinary knowledge test and more of an easygoing activity. Now that I am more comfortable reading recipes, I am more likely to try a new dish without much anxiety. And as a class assistant for Cooking Matters, knowing how to read recipes and instructions is a necessary skill to help lead meal preparation.

Last week, I volunteered at my first Cooking Matters class for adults with residents at Rosie Shields Manor, a senior living facility in partnership with Beyond Housing.

Good Thymes

To begin, the participants introduced themselves by sharing with us their previous experience with cooking. A handful of residents had never cooked for themselves and had little to no experience in the kitchen.  Other residents were former chefs or caretakers for family members, so they had more experience in the kitchen than their counterparts. The majority of the participants expressed that they joined the class for the same reason: to learn how to cook healthier and more balanced meals.

Nancy, a resident at Rosie Shields, shared that she was one of 11 growing up in her family and had become accustomed to making large portion meals. She has tasked herself with learning how to prepare smaller portioned meals. Another resident, Bonnie, shared that she frequently enjoys fried foods and would like to cut back. Bonnie hopes that this class will help her learn how to manage her sodium intake and find healthier substitutes for her favorite meals.

For the remainder of the class, we prepared turkey tacos with ground turkey and a fruit salad with a warm honey and yogurt glaze.

So, What’s the Big Dill?

This class stood out to me because, as we ate the meal the class prepared, we discussed the St. Louis mayoral race and the significance of local and state elections. Melvia, a resident at Rosie Shields, pointed out that voter apathy has been a key factor in the outcome of previous elections in Missouri. We discussed how important voter participation is in local and state elections because legislators play a key role in determining the quality of life of their constituents, especially for low income populations.  If elected officials fail to recognize the needs of low income communities, these marginalized populations will continue to face barriers to accessing what they need to survive, such as food, housing, and education.