Friday, June 14, 2013

Cooking up confidence


 HEALTHY HELPINGS: Chef Brian Swan teaches the June 4 Cooking Matters class


Empowering families at risk for hunger or obesity with the skills, knowledge and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals is the goal of the Share Our Strengths: Cooking Matters education program. These six-week, hands-on nutrition sessions have been offered for the past two years through a partnership between the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center and the Boys & Girls Club of Chelsea.

The classes combine collaborative food preparation – using nutritious, readily available, low-cost, culturally appropriate ingredients – with essential information such as instructions on how to read nutrition facts panels and use calorie-counting programs. At the end of each class, participants take home a bag of ingredients so they can practice preparing the recipes taught that day.

During the group’s most recent session in early June, Revere resident Tom Babson said he enrolled in the class – which has been taught in English, Spanish, Arabic and American Sign Language – to learn how to cook healthy meals on a budget. Revere resident Vanety Ocampo, a native of Columbia, said, “I enrolled in the course to learn more about cooking the healthy foods that I see in the markets that I don’t know.”

“This course is an example of Mass General’s strong interest in addressing the ‘social determinants’ of health. By improving the community’s access to healthy foods, we help to improve the health and well-being of the people in that community,” said Melissa Dimond, manager of Community Initiatives/Healthy Living for Community Health Improvement at MGH Chelsea, part of the MGH Center for Community Health Improvement. 

For more information on the Food for Thought program, call Benjamin Brennan, coordinator of Food for Families at MGH Chelsea, at 617-887-3575.

Read more articles from the 06/14/13 Hotline issue.

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