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.
Hands-On Cooking Courses
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 8-15 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. Adults and teens take home a bag of groceries after each class, so they can practice the recipes taught that day. To try some of the Cooking Matters® recipes for yourself at home, click here.
Cooking Matters® at the Store
Families on a tight budget report that the cost of healthy groceries is their biggest barrier to making healthy meals at home. Food skills, like smart shopping, can help overcome that barrier. This interactive, one-day guided grocery store tour teaches low-income adults how to get the most nutrition for their food dollars. During the 1 ½ hour tour, participants are empowered by four key food skills: reading food labels, comparing unit prices, finding whole grain foods, and identifying three ways to purchase produce. The tour often ends in the $10 Challenge, an activity where participants use the skills they’ve just learned to buy a healthy meal for a family of four, for under $10.