On June 23, seven families from across Arapahoe County began attending Cooking Matters classes and while their parents were taking classes, Early Learning Ventures provided child care to the children to remove the cost of child care and encourage attendance. Cooking Matters is a national campaign which has served more than 265,000 low-income families across the U.S. since its inception in 1993.
In the state of Colorado, it is funded by the Share Our Strengths No Kid Hungry Campaign, an initiative of Governor Hickenlooper. Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters Colorado program is designed to empower low-income families with the skills to stretch their food budgets so their children get healthy meals at home.
This six week cooking class educates families about healthy, nutritious meals by leading interactive grocery store tours, offering hands-on cooking courses, and providing educational tools such as nutritional guides and cookbooks.
While their parents were learning new recipes, kids created ocean-themed crafts, had “picnics,” and watched movies like Finding Nemo and Lilo and Stitch.
At the end of each class, parents would pick up their children and share the stories of what they had learned. After week 4, one parent shared that she had learned the difference between white process flour and wheat flour, and stated she would no longer be buying any products that were not wheat-based for her family.
The parents of three-year-old Aron told ELV they loved coming to the classes! For them, grocery shopping can be difficult and overwhelming as their kids are picky and fresh food can be pricey. And what’s more, they truly felt that they didn’t have enough time to meal plan. Cooking Matters showed them the possibilities not only of grocery shopping on a budget, but also of being creative and healthy with meals. Aron’s parents said he asks every week when Cooking Matters will be, which makes them even more excited to attend the classes!
And, through observation during the two hours of child care, a referral was made by ELV for a 2-year-old to Developmental Pathways to screen and assess whether the child is developmentally on target or in need of assistance.
In the future, ELV hopes to bring Cooking Matters to three additional Quality Development Partnership sites!