Cooking Matters and More at Parrish Manor

Community. Opportunity. Learning. That’s what is growing at a place called Parrish Manor, a manufactured housing community where Inter-Faith Food Shuttle works with neighborhood teens to manage a community garden.  Chris Parrish, who runs the park along with his father, Charles Parrish, has aimed to create a place that provides not just a home, but a community full of activity that prioritizes health, wellness, and opportunity. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is proud to be a partner in these efforts, employing young people to work in the community garden, hosting nutrition and cooking classes, and partnering with NC State University (NCSU) Soil Science students to host gardening classes for teens.

Cooking Matters

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle recently conducted classes for third to fifth graders based on our Cooking Matters for Kids curriculum. These cooking-based nutrition education courses are designed to teach low-income adults, families, teens, and kids how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on a limited budget.

I had the great fortune to sit in on the second class, which focused on fresh fruits and vegetables.  The kids were asked to try each kind of fruit or vegetable and record its color, texture, size, and taste, deciding whether they liked it…or whether it was something they might try again later. Describing a whole kiwi that the group passed around, one participant noted, “it’s kind of squishy, and really rough!’

The kids got to sample all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, some of which they had never tried before. The sampling laid out on the table included mushrooms, bell peppers , sweet potato, carrots, pomegranate, kiwi, strawberries, and raspberries.

At the end of the exercise, nutrition instructor Katie asked each member of the class to name their favorite sample from the ones they tasted, and one fruit or vegetable they tasted but had previously never tried.

The class also talked about where the food they were trying comes from, and what parts of the plant different fruits and vegetables are (roots, stems, leaves). How fortunate that these kids can also venture out the Parrish Manor community garden and see some of the things they tasted growing right now!

Cooking Matters classes teach culinary skills, too, so kids can learn how to make simple and healthy meals for themselves at home.

Before diving in, they learned some very important knife skills– to form your hand into a “claw” when chopping to avoid cutting your fingers, to slice round things in half first to create a flat and steady surface, and to safely hold a knife and pass it to another person.


Class participants safely cutting up vegetables for their meal!


The group made veggie wraps with zucchini, onion, carrots, lettuce, fresh herbs, cheese, avocado spread, and hummus on whole-grain tortillas.

Some kids got a little over-zealous filling their tortillas with the fresh cut veggies – proud of their hard work, their eyes were a bit bigger than their stomachs – or mouths!

When everyone had assembled their wrap, they sat down to eat together with a fruit salad made with the types of fruit they had tasted earlier.

Check back soon to find out more about what's happening in the community garden!