What is Cooking Matters?
Cooking Matters is a cooking-based, nutrition education program that encourages people to eat healthier and make the best use of their food resources.
Courses meet for two hours, once a week, for six weeks and are taught by a dedicated corps of volunteers, SNAP-Ed educators and EFNEP (Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program) community nutrition educators throughout Minnesota.
What is a course like?
- Participants will learn how to:
- Read food labels,
- Plan menus,
- Understand the importance of vegetables or whole grains.
- Cooking demonstrations include:
- Knife safety,
- Using herbs and spices,
- Preparing a healthy recipe.
- The group eats the meal they just created together.
- And before leaving, participants receive the recipe and ingredients needed to prepare that same recipe at home, to practice their new skills.
Each Cooking Matters course is tailored for the individuals in the class. There is an emphasis on getting to know the participants to better understand what they hope to learn and encourage everyone to share their skills and knowledge with each other.
In 2009, University of Minnesota Extension partnered with Share Our Strength, a non-profit working to end hunger and poverty, to bring Cooking Matters to the state of Minnesota. Cooking Matters plays a critical role in Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign. The campaign works to end childhood hunger in America by:
- Connecting kids in need with nutritious food
- Teaching how to cook healthy, affordable meals.
Today, Cooking Matters is delivered throughout Minnesota and helps families struggling with a limited food budget learn how to shop for and prepare healthy, affordable, and delicious meals. As part of Extension’s Department of Family, Health and Wellbeing, Cooking Matters MN partners with organizations and communities to deliver Cooking Matters programming to families and individuals living on a limited income. Through an evidence-based, six-week course, participants cover all aspects of preparing healthy meals from planning and budgeting to shopping and preparing meals.
Our collaborative model
Cooking Matters Minnesota's collaborative model combines the resources of the national organization with University of Minnesota Extension’s health and nutrition program to deliver exceptional nutrition education at local sites with the help of volunteers.
Cooking Matters Minnesota partners with local agencies around the metro and around the state to provide hands-on, cooking-based nutrition education classes to Minnesota families living on a budget. How it works.
Our typical host agencies meet the following criteria:
- Serves families within 185% of the poverty level who are able to cook at home or are working towards self-sufficiency.
- Has space and facilities to accommodate 12-15 participants.
- Has a staff person to recruit participants and make weekly reminder phone calls.
To learn more about becoming a Cooking Matters host site, complete this form.
Cooking Matters Minnesota combines Extension’s expertise in nutrition with local chefs and other volunteers. Volunteers are a key part of a successful program. They teach Minnesota families how to create healthy, delicious meals on a limited budget. Participants learn how to grocery shop, make healthy choices and cook food their family will want to eat.
There are several ways you can be part of Cooking Matters, depending on your interests.
Reviewed in 2023