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Why Cooking Matters in the fight to end hunger

Last year, Good Shepherd Food-Bank launched Cooking Matters for Maine in partnership with Share Our Strength, a national non-profit committed to ending childhood hunger in America. Cooking Matters mobilizes chefs and other community volunteers to teach low-income families how to prepare healthy, delicious meals on a budget. The University of Maine Cooperative Extension provides the nutrition educators for our classes. 

The strength of this program is the true community collaboration it creates. Since we launched last year, we’ve had over 55 volunteers and Cooperative Extension educators teach over 300 families how to cook.

What does cooking have to do with ending hunger? Simple. When you have limited money to spend on food, you buy as much food as inexpensively as you can. All too often this leads to purchases of quick carbohydrates – white bread, pasta, ramen noodles, and soda – foods that are calorie dense yet void of nutrients leaving us with a generation of people that are overweight and undernourished. This has led to a new phenomenon in our country – those most at risk of hunger are also the most at risk of obesity and chronic disease.

Poor health causes people to miss work, to not be able to care for their children, to have less money to spend on basic necessities because of rising health care costs and the vicious cycle continues. Cooking Matters because when you know how to select and prepare healthy, delicious meals for your family, you are able to maximize your food dollars and give your family a chance to live healthy, productive lives. Cooking Matters because when families take the time to prepare and sit down and have a meal together, they are creating a nurturing environment in which their children can thrive.

Does Cooking Matter to you?  If so, volunteer today!

“Being a teenager is hard enough without having to figure out where and when you’re going to get your next meal.  To have caring members of their community spend time listening to their stories and teaching them a valuable life skill is something these kids won’t forget.”

Cooking Matters class

-Christine Caputo, Teacher, The Real School, Falmouth

My life has been affected by this class because I have learned to cook and eat healthier. I also learned about shopping on a budget to help save me money. This is an excellent class and also very fun!

-Cooking Matters for Adults participant, Lewiston

“My biggest thing to tell them is to cook at home. Everything stems from getting the family to sit down. And whether they have the traditional mom-dad, brother-sister family, or a nontraditional family, food can overcome so much.”

-Chef James Tranchemontagne, The Frog and Turtle Restaurant, Westbrook