PART 3: ‘Cooking Matters for Kids’ teaches healthy habits

Children and working families are even more at risk of food insecurity during the summer. This 4-part summer series showcases the different ways Inter-Faith Food Shuttle is fighting hunger during the summer months:

  1. Summer hunger heats up
  2. Feeding kids through partnerships
  3. ‘Cooking Matters for Kids’ teaches healthy habits
  4. “Mobile Tastiness Machine” Food Truck feeds kids where they live
Young graduates of Cooking Matters
Young graduates of Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters teaches families to shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget. This summer, IFFS is going further by piloting Cooking Matters instruction to kids at Public School summer camps, taking nutrition education directly to low income school kids on their summer vacations.

Kids learn about MyPlate ( the USDA’s guide to the five food groups), identify whole grains, and try new fruits and veggies. Students practice safe knife skills and learn key cooking terms as they help prepare and eat healthy meals and snacks, such as:

  • Turkey tacos
  • Chinese veggies and rice
  • Mac and cheese with broccoli
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Trail mix
  • Fizzy fruit drinks

The whole class agrees to taste at least one bite of everything that is prepared, but more often than not, all of the plates are licked clean when participants realize how yummy this healthy food really is. They also enjoy tasting new things, such as mangoes or papaya.

Learning during Cooking Matters for Kids
Learning during Cooking Matters for Kids

Children learn about nutrition while they cook, a learning bonus during the summer months when they are out of the classroom. Most importantly, they are learning how to be self-sufficient in the kitchen. Kids are surprised to discover that chocolate milk and sodas have the same amount of sugar in them. They discuss why that is and brainstorm healthier beverage options.

Cooking Matters classes provide 12 hours of hands-on training to Durham third- and fifth-graders in summer camps at Spring Valley, Eno Valley, and WG Pearson Elementary schools. Our Nutrition Education team also provides five weeks of Cooking Matters instruction to Durham teens at Urban Hope Summer Camp, and Chapel Hill teens through the Town Hall Community Connects Center.

All  Cooking Matters participants are from low income families. These classes empower kids and families with knowledge they can use immediately in their own homes. Participants get the Cooking Matters curriculum, recipes, a reusable shopping bag, take-home snacks, and the teens get a cutting board in addition to the skills and knowledge they learn in class.

At the end of Cooking Matters, kids return home eager to demonstrate their new-found knowledge to their families and friends, and share the gospel of healthy eating!

Thanks to the support of IFFS donors, hundreds of children receive healthy food in the summer. Please give today to ensure these important programs remain available.