Habitat for Humanity homeowners complete Foodlink Cooking Matters class

They have new homes, and now they have new skills and recipes to use in their new kitchens.

A six-week Cooking Matters course — led by Foodlink’s nurtrition education team in partnership with Flower City Habitat for Humanity — culminated Saturday, Nov. 2 with the final class. The program taught participants how to read and compare food labels, shop for healthy food items on a budget and safely prepare meals for their families. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield partnered with both organizations to provide financial support for the class.

PHOTOS: Check out our Facebook album from the final class!

Foodlink conducts dozens of Cooking Matters courses each year as a lead partner for the national Share Our Strength initiative. The curriculum is customized for various audiences, such as families, teens, parents and seniors. The class with Flower City Habitat for Humanity was a unique partnership with another local nonprofit.

“This was an exciting class for Foodlink, and one we were looking forward to hosting in our new Nutrition Center,” said Margaret Liljedahl, Foodlink’s Senior Manager for Nutrition Education. “Each Saturday, our educators shared valuable cooking and nutrition tips with Habitat’s newest homeowners – an engaging group that spanned generations.”

On Saturday, the participants helped prepare three recipes: Black Bean Brownies, Turkey Tacos, and Mango Salsa. One mother/daughter pairing had moved into their new home just two days prior. Another woman completed the program with her sister and her two daughters.

Keisha Betts said she appreciated learning healthier ways to prepare a meal and that the children really loved being involved in the cooking process (and the eating process, as well!).

“I cook all the time,” Betts said. “I enjoyed learning to make new, healthier meals.”

Another participant, Marshea Best, said she found the course useful in helping her make healthy choices when shopping for food and preparing meals.

“I learned techniques and how to choose less costly foods,” Best said. “I learned to make healthier meals, and make healthy choices using more fruits and vegetables, using whole wheat and adding dairy.”

One of Foodlink’s Eat Smart New York educators, Fatima Srayi, helped lead the class. On Saturday, she was joined by Foodlink’s Cooking Matters Coordinator, Cory Robinson.

“It was great meeting so many families and children in this class, and even greater to witness their nutrition and culinary journeys — and watch them try new, healthy foods,” Srayi said. “It was rewarding helping them transition into their new homes with new recipes to try and new skills to to apply in the kitchen.”

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