About Cooking Matters

Below is information on the "Cooking Matters" program that was associated with GPAN.

Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters is a national program that empowers families at risk of hunger with the skills, knowledge and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals. With the help of volunteer culinary and nutrition experts, course participants learn how to select nutritious and low-cost ingredients and prepare them in ways that provide the best nourishment possible to their families. Since 1993, Cooking Matters (formerly Share Our Strength's Operation Frontline) has grown to serve more than 11,000 families each year across the country, helping them learn how to eat better on a budget. Today, 85 percent of Cooking Matters participants graduate, taking with them improved nutrition practices, eating habits, and food budgeting skills.

Cooking Matters has emerged as an important force in the battle to end childhood hunger by providing volunteer culinary and nutrition experts co-lead all Cooking Matters courses, providing practical, hands-on instruction that empowers participants to make the most of their limited resources. Cooking Matters specialized curricula cover nutrition and healthy eating, food preparation, budgeting and shopping. All participants receive recipes and other educational materials from the lessons, and adult and teen participants take home a bag of groceries each week to practice what they've learned in class at home.

Cooking Matters serves a diverse audience of low-income families, who bring the richness of their backgrounds, cultures, languages and kitchen practices to Cooking Matters classes. Most are enrolled in food assistance programs including SNAP (formerly food stamps) and free or reduced-price school meals. Courses are held at a variety of community-based agencies including Head Start centers, housing centers and after-school programs with neighborhood locations that make it easy for families to attend.

Cooking Matters ensures that its curricula reflect the most current and tested thinking on appropriate content and facilitation methods for targeted audiences through regular, scheduled curricula updates. Evaluation results show that Cooking Matters nutrition education program has been very successful at promoting key nutrition and food resource management behaviors among participants changes that will ultimately help children at risk get the healthy foods they need.

It invades our schools. It preys on children. It destroys families. And it tears communities apart!

You can't see it by looking. The victims are black, white, Asian and Hispanic. You can't measure it in pounds. It affects short and tall, thin and chubby. YOU CAN'T SEE IT, BUT IT LIVES NEXT DOOR. The problem is hunger. A shameful, unthinkable hunger. Child hunger. In the wealthiest nation in the world. Over the course of the year, more than 12 million children in America will worry about having the food they need. That's one in six. Next time you see a playground, count heads. One, two, three, four, five . . . hungry. The invisible hunger is everywhere.