Tamara D

Gleaners' Nutrition Manager, Sarah Huber (left) and Indy Hunger Network's Share Our Strength Cooking Matters Coordinator, Megan Songer (right) prep for the next class of Share Our Strength Cooking Matters students.

Tamara was a graduate of our last Cooking Matters class, in partnership with Indy Hunger Network. During this six week hands on cooking class, participants gain cooking skills and knowledge on food and nutrition, in addition to learning how to create healthy affordable meals.

Tamara grew up in a family of 8 kids, very low income. She says her family did not learn about eating healthy, but instead learned to fill up on cheap food. She signed up for the class because as a mother of 3 and a step mother of 2 she understands the importance of cooking healthy on a budget. Hear the difference Cooking Matters made in Tamara's life.

"I wanted to share my experience of a little class I took called Cooking Matters. I didn't know a lot of details about the class, but I was excited to learn. I missed the first week of class as I was extremely sick and had no way of getting out of bed, but I went to the second class. When I walked in, there were people to greet me, explain the program to me and welcome me. They were all so excited and the amount of volunteers there eager to help and answer questions was just amazing.

Okay, so let’s get to the actual class. As you know now, the folks running it were all amazing! During the class you learn about nutrition and how to balance a complete meal including all the needed food groups and portion sizes. During the class you talk about nutrition, share ideas and ask questions. Then comes the best part, you get to cook a meal. I'm talking hands on, everyone in the class helping, and you’re still learning as you cook, talking about different ways to incorporate veggies and different nutritious items into everyday meals. You can see how when you add something like shredded yams to ground turkey to make taco, the yams help to stretch out the amount of meat you have and you can’t tell there are yams in it. So eat healthy, stretch your food out and save money! Then you get to sit down and eat the meal with the class. At the end of the meal, Cooking Matters gives you the ingredients to take home and make the same meal for your family. Every week I would make the recipe for my family and the next week go back and share the experience.

Our group was amazing. We took photos of the meals we made and shared so much with each other. Before graduation, the class met up at the neighborhood Walmart and put all that we had learned to the test, to make a meal for 4 including all food groups for 10 bucks or less. We all went in really nervous, not sure if we could do it, kind of mind blown that we could feed our family a healthy fulfilling meal for $10! When we got to the store they took us around and showed us how to look at the labels, read the ingredients, and to make sure we got the best price for what we need to eat healthy. They gave us 20 minutes to go shop for a healthy meal, but stayed close for any questions we might have. It was so much fun! We got to take the meal we bought home to cook for dinner along with a cookbook filled with tons of healthy recipes and nutrition information!

The last class is where you graduate. At my last class we didn't want the class to be over; we all made it a celebration and tested ourselves once again. We picked a recipe from the book we were given and shared after class. I made black bean brownies, and they really were amazing. We all got a great gift for taking the class but the best gift was the hearts that were there, they really cared and loved what they were doing. By the third class we were pretty much a family, and at the last class most of us teared up because it was over. The class did so much for my knowledge, confidence to add and try new stuff and shop with more sense of I can do this on a budget!

Growing up in a family of 8 kids, very low income, we did not learn about eating healthy, we learned to fill up tummies very cheap. This class gives you the knowledge on how to do that in a healthy and cost efficient way. I'm very grateful for the program. I'm 37 years old and I learned so much! You're never too old to change the way you think about food!

Thank you Cooking Matters for all you do! I will never forget this experience!"

This month we will be follow the incoming group of Cooking Matters students that started class yesterday, April 9th.