What Is Cooking Matters?
The OWU Department of Health & Human Kinetics (HHK) – Cooking Matters program serves as one of the key cross-cutting strategies in the Delaware County Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), specifically focused on reducing food insecurity through promoting healthy eating practices through education and skill building. We are the lead agency for this strategy, and have been offering Cooking Matters classes in Delaware County since 2014. There are 15,230 food insecure individuals in Delaware county, or 7.6% of the county population (Feeding America, 2019). In combination with the efforts of food pantries, free meals, and other programs, educational programs like ours can aid in alleviating food insecurity by increasing knowledge, skills, and other aspects of food access.
At the center of the Cooking Matters program is a six-week course focused on cooking, nutrition, and planning meals on a budget. Participants learn about healthy eating practices, cooking skills, meal planning and budgeting, and share a meal that they cook at the end of each session. Participants are also given groceries to take home to replicate the meal they learned to make in class. We recognize that families on a tight budget may not be able to take the chance on spending their limited grocery budget on unfamiliar foods, so this gives them a chance to try it out with their family, and to make adaptations as needed. We have also done customized classes that meet a fewer number of times, or focus on a specific need in the community, but we always make a meal together, and provide take-home groceries in almost every instance.
The OWU Cooking Matters program offers classes and events where participants learn how to eat healthy, cook and grocery shop on a limited budget. We offer one-time events at farmers markets, food pantries, and community meals, and our centerpiece is a six-week class series that can be tailored toward adults, families, or children, and consists of six two-hour lessons.
At each class in our six-week series, participants will receive take-home food, which they can use at home to practice a recipe they learned in class. The class series also includes:
- Participatory food preparation that provides cooking and food safety instruction
- Engaging nutrition activities and discussions
- Practice with food budgeting
- Interactive grocery store visit and $10 challenge
- Recipe book for use at home
- Certificate of completion
Our class series is taught throughout the community, including but not limited to community centers, churches, and schools.
We partner with Local Matters of Columbus Ohio in the administration of our program, and are part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. We are proud members of the Delaware County Hunger Alliance, and our programming is generously supported by the United Way of Delaware County’s Collective Impact Grant, and the Cooking Matters national sponsor, WalMart.