Tag Archives: cooking matters

Getting the word out to Flint families

On Tuesday, April 26, MSU Extension participated in the Flint Farmers Market event held by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and attended by representatives from state and local agencies, the media and the public. The event raised awareness about the nutrition assistance programs and guidance resources available to Flint residents.

During the press conference, speakers from many organizations and programs such as the Fair Food Network, the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Farmers Market Nutrition Program, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the United Dairy Industry of Michigan joined USDA speakers to share about nutrition and program information. Erin Powell, MSU Extension health and nutrition educator, spoke at the press conference, highlighting MSU Extension resources and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program ‒ Education (SNAP‒Ed).

After the press conference, participants interacted with program staff during activities and demonstrations, and at informational booths. Our MSU Extension team provided a cooking demonstration, a Cooking Matters class and a Discover Michigan Fresh tour. They also set up a “fender blender” bike for participants to ride to create a healthy smoothie and taste the results of their efforts. The MSU Extension booth showcased our nutrition education curricula, fight lead brochures and class fliers.

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The event provided accurate information, brought partners together who support the efforts in Flint and delivered a cohesive message. The USDA took sounds bites and video footage to develop public service announcements for future use to reach out and educate more of the public about the important resources available.

Thank you, Dawn Contreras, Deanna East, Erin Powell, Lynette Kaiser, Rich Ashley and his son Gabe, Liz Josaitis, Maha Khrais, Shane Jackson, Nancy Latham, Becky Henne and Tom Cummins for your efforts to provide meaningful activities and content, and for representing MSU Extension at this successful event.

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Filed under Children and Youth, communication, Events, Flint Water, Food, Health and Nutrition, Nutrition, Partnerships, Publications, Resources

Extension staff to attend Cooking Matters Conference

Two Michigan State University Extension staff members and a chef who helped out in the program will have the opportunity to attend the Share Our Strength Cooking Matters National Conference of Leaders 2013 in June.

Cooking Matters empowers people to make healthy food choices and save money at the same time. The program is part of a broader strategy to end childhood hunger, the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. ConAgra Foods Foundation and Wal-Mart sponsor the program nationally. Gleaner’s Community Food Bank in Detroit partners with MSU Extension to make the program possible locally across the state.

Carol Bublitz recently received the Share Our Strength Cooking Matters Conference of Leaders Volunteer Scholarship, an opportunity for each Cooking Matters program partner to select one Cooking Matters volunteer to attend. The scholarship covers expenses associated with attendance.

Carol is an MSU Extension program instructor who works with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Breastfeeding Initiative (BFI) in St. Clair County.

Carol had served as a nutrition educator for the Cooking Matters program since 2009, working directly with Gleaners, before it became an approved curriculum for MSU Extension. Since that time, she and Cassandra Hackstock, another Extension program instructor, have coordinated more than15 additional Cooking Matters courses in St. Clair County.

Carol said, “Cassandra would be accompanying me, but the scholarship only covers one volunteer.

“The partnership between Cooking Matters is strong and vital. I can’t help but acknowledge that the appreciation goes both ways,” Carol said.

Don Zimmer, a volunteer chef who assists in teaching Cooking Matters classes in Mecosta County, will receive recognition at the conference and will be inducted into the Cooking Matters Hall of Fame at that time. The Hall of Fame honors volunteers across the country who have completed at least 15 Cooking Matters course series. This is an amazing accomplishment considering Chef Don only began volunteering in February 2012.

These courses could not have been possible without the support and coordination expertise of Extension program assistant Effie Jack. She recruited and engaged Chef Don in the Cooking Matters program. Together they facilitated 15 Cooking Matters classes and she continually keeps a waiting list for people signed up for Cooking Matters. Effie will also attend the conference.

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Local media takes notice of Cooking Matters

Cooking Matters empowers people to make healthy food choices and save money at the same time. The program is part of a broader strategy to end childhood hunger, the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. ConAgra Foods Foundation and Walmart sponsor the program nationally. Gleaner’s Community Food Bank in Detroit partners with Michigan State University Extension to make the program possible locally.

In District 3, MSU Extension SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education) has been providing the Cooking Matters program for both adults and teens for the last three years. Many other counties in the state are now providing the program for these two groups and some have added a program for child care providers. An MSU Extension nutrition instructor and a local volunteer chef team-teaches the class.

Lately, MSU Extension’s role in the program has been front-page news. The Feb. 16-17 edition of the Manistee News Advocate featured a story about students at CASMAN Academy in Manistee County receiving cooking and nutrition instruction through MSU Extension’s Cooking Matters for Teens.

Extension program instructor Cyndi Jacobi got the ball rolling at the academy, getting the program started. Cyndi provides nutrition instruction. Nutrition education and cooking instruction team up to create a valuable life skill for these students. Cyndi incorporated cooking expertise from Nick Wemple, student chef from the Great Lakes Culinary Institute at Northwestern Michigan College. The six-week course will culminate with the students preparing a meal for the entire student and staff population at the academy.

Cyndi said, “Nick is a graduate of the CASMAN Alternative Academy and I think that makes him an excellent role model for the students. CASMAN has a hands-on approach to learning with small classroom size, a perfect fit for Cooking Matters.”

After the six-week program, Nick will continue to work with the students. They will help plan meals and cook for the entire student body and staff, approximately 80 people, every Friday through the rest of the school year. The skills that the students learn could lead to a possible job in food service or could spark an interest in attending a culinary institute.

Other media noticed an Extension team providing Cooking Matters elsewhere in the state. Watch this MTM on the Road video from 9&10 News Cadillac in which Extension program leaders Lori Eccles and Michelle Smith talk about the Cooking Matters program the two present at Forest Area High School in Fife Lake, Kalkaska County: http://www.9and10news.com/story/21279615/mtm-on-the-road-cooking-matters.

 Lori said, “The team-teaching approach helps add another dimension to the learning for the participants. In some of the classes, graduates from the Great Lakes Culinary Institute have volunteered to teach. We’ve also worked with local restaurant owners and chefs, which adds to the community connection. Restaurant owners and chefs help teach the cooking aspects of the class. Not only are the participants learning healthy ways of eating based on MyPlate recommendations, they are also able to actually prepare a healthy recipe. In the adult classes, they are able to take the groceries home for the recipe prepared in class so they can make it for their families.”

Another Cooking Matters series begins in Forest Area High School March 7 for the second semester health students. The food service director will be joining the students as the chef.

Lori said, “It truly has become a school-wide endeavor to provide the tools necessary for the students to leave with skills to take steps toward a healthier future.”

Extension educator Jennifer Berkey supervises Cyndi, Lori and Michelle, providing help and guidance along the way.

Many of our MSU Extension colleagues have equipped families through the Cooking Matters program. Read this MSU Extension News article by Extension educator Denise Aungst that tells more about the program: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/cooking_matters_makes_a_difference_with_michigan_families

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Eating Smart From the Start Program educates child care providers in nutrition

Any parent knows how hard it can be to get kids to eat nutritious food. Child care providers struggle with the problem as well.

 Michigan State University Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) and Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in Saginaw and Genesee counties partnered with Cooking Matters (formerly Operation Frontline) to offer the Eating Smart From the Start program designed by Cooking Matters. The program empowers child care providers to serve nutritious – and delicious – meals and teach healthy eating habits to the children in their care. This five-session course engaged 15 child care providers caring for children living in low-income situations in a series of participatory cooking lessons. In November 2010, the program received a grant from Cooking Matters, sponsored nationally by Wal-Mart and the ConAgra Foods Foundation, to implement a series in the winter and spring.

 Dawn Earnesty, Extension educator District 9, oversees the program and grant. Monica Borsenik, MSU Saginaw County Extension program instructor, and Chrystal Harris, MSU Genesee County Extension program assistant, provided nutrition instruction. A culinary professional, Brandon Odum, who is a culinary arts major at Mott Community College, provided instruction for the cooking aspect of the class. Topics included healthy snack ideas for children, healthy recipes, menu planning, budgeting and strategies to promote positive attitudes about food among children.

 Participants took part in hands-on cooking lessons with direction from Mr. Odum. Grant money provided groceries for child care providers to take home and prepare meals with the children they care for. It also provided for a group meal and snack at the educational session.

 Throughout the class, participants discovered new ideas about nutrition and healthy recipes to implement into their child care businesses. The curriculum focused on engaging children into the cooking process, trying new foods and learning the importance of eating meals as a family.

 One child care provider, who had described issues she had with picky eaters, implemented the program’s “cucumber sammies” recipe for her children’s healthy snack one day. She couldn’t believe the positive response she received from the children. They were eating something green and healthy and liked it! Participant evaluations from the first session resulted in 100 percent of the group reporting they enjoyed the content and learned at least one new piece of information about nutrition.

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