Cooking Matters is helping families in Colorado to shop and eat healthier. In partnership with SNAP-Ed, Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters teaches participants to shop smarter. Participants learn to use nutrition information to make healthier choices. Participants learn how to cook delicious, affordable meals. Cooking Matters provides professional-level curricula. The program also provides materials, training, evaluation, and national leadership support. Local program partners provide hands-on help, program customization, and partnerships that are built locally. Cooking Matters empowers families with the skills needed to stretch their food budgets while cooking healthy meals!
One student, Gloria gained valuable skills from Cooking Matters. After a medical condition left her unable to work, she found herself struggling to make ends meet and keep healthy meals on the table for her three children. With the knowledge she gained from the course and the guidance she received from her teacher, Gloria can feed her children nearly all month on the same SNAP benefits, and rarely struggles to provide enough for her children.
How it Works
Cooking Matters programs include:
- Hands-On, 6-week courses: Community partners that serve low-income families offer 6-week courses to adults, parents, and families. Each course is team-taught by a volunteer chef and nutrition educator. Courses cover meal preparation, grocery shopping, food budgeting, and nutrition. Adult and teen participants take home a bag of groceries at the end of each class. The bags are provided through support from donations to Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters. These courses are included in the SNAP-Ed Interventions Toolkit.
- Grocery Store Tours: Cooking Matters at the Store tours provide families with education as they shop for food. Teaching at the store gives them skills to compare foods for cost and nutrition. Participants learn how to plan and budget for healthy, affordable, and delicious meals. These tours are included in the SNAP-Ed Interventions Toolkit.
- Childcare Professionals Trainings: Childcare professionals learn healthy meal preparation, food safety, and how to help children try new foods. Participants learn to create a positive food environment for the kids in their care. These trainings are found in the SNAP-Ed Interventions Toolkit.
Key Outcomes in CO
In FFY17, Cooking Matters reached 6,273 families.
- 3,831 families were reached through 311, 6-week long courses.
- 292 families were reached through Cooking Matters for childcare professionals.
- 2,150 families were reached through Cooking Matters at the Store Tours.
Programs were delivered in 30 counties across Colorado.
- In FY17, after Cooking Matters at the Store tours, 63% of adults reported being likely to compare food labels to make healthy food choices. 53% of parents and caregivers reported being likely to purchase more fruits and vegetables.
- In FY17, a Pre-Post validated Survey for Cooking Matters for Childcare Professionals reported that 62% of caregivers are serving kids more fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
- Cooking Matters Colorado increases food security, as found as a key result from a long term Cooking Matters study.
- Participants report they rarely run out of food before month’s end after 6-week class, compared to sometimes before the class.
Cooking Matters uses a validated pre-post survey tool to measure knowledge, attitudes, and behavior changes from Cooking Matters courses. This survey tool can be found in the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework Interpretive Guide.
Additionally, Cooking Matters has conducted a process evaluation. As a result, gold-standards for Cooking Matters programming nationally were established. This tool is used to guide, inform, and evaluate programs to ensure program integrity.
This article was submitted by Share our Strength's Cooking Matters, a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency. For more information, contact Christina Miller.