Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to sit in on the Hays County Food Bank’s Get FED Cooking Class called Food Wise. Food Wise is a nutrition cooking class that was created by the Food Bank’s very own Nutrition and Food Program Manager, Kirby Stewart. The great thing about this class is that it teaches families how to use the foods they receive from the food bank in a healthy way. It focuses on the nutritional values of fruits and vegetables, as well as the taste. Both children and adults can attend this hands-on cooking class.
It started at 6 p.m. with healthy snacks like crackers, cheese and fruit for the clients. Two health and nutrition interns, Mariah Quattlebaum and William Hawkins started the class off by explaining what they were cooking that night as well as what key vegetable they were using. Mariah later told me, “Some people get bored with the same type of food all the time, so to branch out and have a variety is good for anybody’s diet. You never know what other kind of nutrients you can get from other foods that you may have never heard of, or have heard of but never had the opportunity to try. If people get that opportunity, I think it’s very beneficial for them.”
The dish for that night was called Enchilada Cauliflower Rice Bowl. The interns explained that altogether the dish only had 130 calories. After the interns were done explaining the directions of the recipe, the clients broke into 4 groups. Everyone in the room was interacting with each other: talking, chopping, blending and not one person looked lost or bored. While I was watching, William was telling me, “This class is good for the education aspect, but also to be able to come together as a community to interact with each other, interact with the people of the food bank, and further build that relationship. Each person that comes here can take something from this experience and spread it to someone else. That’s what education is all about; the domino effect of everyone learning something. Something like cauliflower, where they might pass it up at the food bank, well now they might do something with it because of this class.”
While the food was cooking and most of the work was done, I got a chance to talk to some of the clients. We talked about things like the halftime show at the Super Bowl to why the clients think Food Wise is important for the community. Victoria Heimbach has been coming to the class for 2 years, and she feels, “It’s a learning experience. You get to find healthy ways to eat vegetables and make it taste good. We have never done a meat dish in the 2 years I have been here; it’s been all vegetarian. If you want to know how to get your family to eat more vegetables, this is definitely the place to go.”
When the food was done cooking everyone grabbed a bowl. One client got really creative with her presentation. After we ate, if the clients brought tupperware they could take some food home. Before they left, the clients received a food distribution and also a box of household hygiene and kitchen products that they can use at home. Overall I feel this experience was by far the best, and I hope that more people will come out next month to see what Food Wise has cooked up next.
-Nysha Morgan, Spring 2016 Communications & Social Media Intern