The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank is uniquely and effectively fighting to end hunger with our free Cooking Matters classes. Many groups have completed the classes but one of note is the Livingston Council on Aging. The seniors at this location learned valuable cooking skills through this six-week course that relate to their limited food budgets. With Louisiana ranked highest in food insecurity among seniors, this portion of classes are greatly needed.

Our nutrition services team appealed to all participants by asking questions related to the seniors’ specific health conditions and recommending alternative ingredients to fit their dietary needs. As seniors, the participants do have previous knowledge for following recipes; however, the course does introduce some new tips and tricks.

For instance, 62-year-old Wanda Crittenden worked in a school cafeteria for over twenty years but still learned some things of value. “I thoroughly enjoyed the class and found it beneficial even being a diabetic,” Crittenden stated. “After 60 years, I didn’t know cumin and turmeric could be used in so much stuff.” Other things participants may have already known, but didn’t realize the importance. Specifically, the importance of reading the labels of their groceries for ingredients and their nutritional value.

Our nutrition services team allows for creativity in the recipes as well. The seniors will suggest other substitutions or additions to the recipes presented, with feedback from the instructors. The participants learned the pros and cons of those suggestions for their attempts to recreate the recipe at home as each participant received a bag of the ingredients used in each classes’ recipe. “A lot of us do not have transportation to get fresh fruits and vegetables,” 64-year-old Brenda Stelly stated. “It helps not only getting the recipes but having the groceries given to us to use at home.”

The seniors that participated in the class at Livingston Council on Aging spoke so highly of the lessons learned, that the location has asked for a second round of classes for the seniors that did not originally participate. We hope the classes continue to bring joy and important educational lessons to seniors in our service area. Cooking Matters is a program open to any adults in Livingston, Pointe Coupee and West Feliciana Parish. The goal of the program is to inspire families to make healthy and affordable food choices.

If you are interested in bringing the Cooking Matters classes to your area, please contact the Food Bank to learn more.