Program helps families shop for, cook healthy meals
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A new nutrition project, funded privately but aimed at meeting a significant social need, helps low-income families shop, cook and eat healthier foods to improve general health and curb obesity.
Cooking Matters has two courses under way, one at Mountain Valley Developmental Services and the other with the teen parenting program at Yampah Mountain High School, said program coordinator Astrid Baroffio. Each class has eight students.
“Everything is free, because we want people to come in and participate,” said Baroffio. “What they learn is to be able to buy fresh produce and a lot of food while they’re on a budget.”
The classes, she said, are being taught by volunteer chefs and nutritionists. She currently is seeking additional volunteers to teach future classes.
The Cooking Matters project is operated in part by the Western Colorado Area Health Education Center, with headquarters in Grand Junction. The nonprofit center has been in business for 31 years, according to project manager Rob Dolan.
Dolan said the center’s mission is to ensure that residents of rural areas on the Western Slope have access to adequate health care, as well as medical careers for students living in the region.
Other partners in the Cooking Matters project are a federal nutrition program for women, infants and children, known as WIC, and Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit organization that works to fight hunger in the U.S.
In teaching shopping and cooking skills, Baroffio said she uses kitchens in churches, at the Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale, and other facilities.
When Dolan told the Garfield Board of County Commissioners on Nov. 21 that the program intends to offer classes from Carbondale to Parachute, county manager Ed Green offered the kitchen facilities at the Human Services building in Rifle for classes.
Baroffio said while she is in the organizational stage right now, with the two courses nearing completion, she expects to be able to conduct as many as five courses at any given time.
Each course involves two one-hour classes a week spread over six weeks. One class per week is spent on nutrition education, Baroffio said, and the second class is taken up with cooking lessons.
Baroffio takes the students on what she called shopping tours of local grocery stores in the fifth week, based on the lessons taught so far in that course.
After the second class each week, she said, the students are given a bag of groceries to take home and prepare the same meal for their family, based on the lessons of that particular week.
Anyone interested in future courses can go online at cookingmatters.org/cooking-matters-colorado or call Baroffio at (970) 985-9641.
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