Friday, December 6, 2013
University of West Georgia students are learning how to cook and eat healthily through cooking classes sponsored by the Cooking Matters program. The program, part of the Tanner Health System’s Community Transformation Grant from the Centers for Disease Control, is designed to help educate and assist certain populations with healthy cooking skills and knowledge.
“I think the uniqueness of the program is how it exemplifies our goal of collaboration both with the community and within our UWG community,” said Elizabeth Butts, UWG’s Health and Wellness promotions coordinator.
The program meets two hours a week for a total of six weeks. During each meeting, participants cook a meal together and learn about shopping for healthy nutrition at an affordable price. Although more than 240 students responded to the initial email announcing the course, the leaders were only able to select 17 UWG students. Students from Carroll, Heard and Haralson counties were given top priority because those were target areas of the grant. Along with Butts, the course is being lead by trained Cooking Matters instructors Javier Hasbun, UWG professor of physics, and Gwen Davidson, visual resources coordinator for UWG’s Department of Art.
“While the recipes are not gourmet, they are designed to incorporate vegetables and fruits as well as whole grains using accessible and affordable ingredients,” said Butts. “Students are learning basic cooking skills that include proper knife use and safe food preparation. Students naturally enjoy the rewards of preparing their own food and sharing the results together. Because the students were randomly selected, it has been interesting to see how cooking together has formed friendships through the natural team building activity of cooking.”
Tanner provided a large portion of the teaching materials, handouts, pots, pans and cooking utensils. UWG’s Housing and Residence provided the grocery items for each menu, the pre-meeting space and kitchen facility for students to cook the meals.
Due to the outstanding number of students expressing an interest, Butts says they hope to follow up next semester with a large healthy cooking and eating event that could benefit students, faculty and staff. “Certainly college life has its own unique challenges, but nutrition is a huge part of the equation,” said Butts. “We hope to continue positive partnerships on campus and in the community that will continue to create this type of awareness.”