As part of our mission to alleviate the burden of hunger, Operation Food Search works to not only distribute food to those in need, but also to provide evidence-based nutrition education to residents of the St. Louis region. Operation Food Search’s Nutrition Education Programs teach low-income kids, teens, families, parents, and adults how to plan, shop, and prepare healthy and delicious meals that are affordable. Education about shopping, cooking, and nutrition helps build the food skills needed to put healthy meals on the table every day. Because low-income families are frequently preparing meals at home, strategies to help make those home-cooked meals are critical in the fight to end childhood hunger.
Operation CHEF (Building Culinary Habits to Empower Families) is a six-week nutrition-focused cooking course that teaches kids and teens fundamental culinary skills through hands-on lessons. With a class size of up to 12 participants, the course meets for up to two hours once a week for six weeks and is taught by one of Operation Food Search’s trained nutrition professionals and at least one trained volunteer. Nutrition education is incorporated into every recipe, discussion, and cooking lesson. The afterschool program covers topics such as eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, increasing whole grain intake, and understanding MyPlate. Through the use of hands-on and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) focused educational activities, the students have fun while learning about cooking and nutrition. Operation CHEF is currently open to kids (ages 8-12) and teens (ages 13-18) who are encouraged to share what they learn with their entire family.
The six-week Cooking Matters® course empowers families at risk of hunger with skills, knowledge and confidence to make healthy, delicious and affordable meals. With a class size of up to 15 participants, the course meets for two hours once a week for six weeks and is taught by one of Operation Food Search’s trained nutrition professionals. Each week builds on itself and topics include meal preparation, grocery shopping, food budgeting, and nutrition. Participants practice fundamental food skills, including proper knife techniques, reading ingredient labels, preparing a wide variety of recipes, and making a healthy meal for a family of four on a $10 budget. All participants take home a bag of groceries after each class, so they can practice the recipes taught that day. The course is currently open to Adults, Families, and Parents. To try some of the Cooking Matters® recipes for yourself at home, click here.