Melissa Musiker is a registered dietician and a member of APCO’s Washington, D.C., health policy team.
All too often we want to see dramatic results. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve vowed to exercise more or eat healthier, only to quickly give up when I don’t see big changes. That’s why it is so refreshing to have a client like Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters®.
Share Our Strength® is a national nonprofit organization whose goal is to end childhood hunger in America. One of their many programs is Cooking Matters, which empowers low-income families with the skills, knowledge and confidence to prepare healthy and affordable meals.
Cooking Matters understands that most families who participate in their program aren’t going to completely change their everyday lives overnight – suddenly cooking perfectly balanced, healthy meals at home seven nights a week. After all, many families, regardless of income, struggle with this ideal. Instead, Cooking Matters was eager to learn exactly what tips and tools families were taking from their program and using in their homes. Months after graduating – what had they remembered and what works for their families?
To find out, Cooking Matters partnered with APCO Insight and Channing Johnson Photography in early 2012 to interview and document five graduates as they shopped for groceries and cooked dinner for their families. The answers are very encouraging –families are making small changes that can have a big impact. Even something as simple as seeing if whole wheat is the first ingredient on a bread or pasta purchase can be a huge step towards helping children to eat more wholesome, nutritious food.
Perhaps one of the best things about Cooking Matters is its recognition that no one is perfect, but that giving families practical information and tools empowers them to make changes for the better. Matilde Martinez, another graduate, says it best, “It’s not something I’m doing 100%, but I’m doing my best.”