Graduates of Cooking Matters gathered on Nov. 16 to celebrate the skills of low-budget healthy cooking and eating, preparing one last group meal at Trinity United Methodist Church on Sycamore Street in Fayetteville. The class is part of Tri Cycle Farms — across from Sycamore Street off Garland Avenue — Farm to Table initiative, with the goal of demonstrating how healthy foods and cost-effective cooking can lead to a better life.
Besides dabbling in growing natural foods and raising urban-friendly farm animals, Tri Cycle is hoping to teach people through classes like Cooking Matters how to prepare and serve nutritious meals. The class offered community members an opportunity to learn and discuss basic principles such as the benefits of eating a variety of foods, and buying locally. Participants also learned essential cooking techniques and core considerations to prevent food borne-illness.
“Most everyone enjoys coming together, telling stories about mutual efforts in improving eating habits, as well as sharing a meal together that we cooked during class,” said Tri Cycle board member, program organizer and former certified dietician for 10 years, Joanna Pollock.
Each course lasts six weeks, with one, two-hour class per week. Following every class, participants received a copy of recipes and a nutrition lesson to take home. In order to graduate and receive a recipe and nutrition book, a reusable shopping bag and a cooking thermometer, participants had to attend four of the six classes. The classes held so far — Cooking Matters for Adults and Cooking Matters for Families — were free to participants, thanks to a $1,400 grant received by Tri Cycle from the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention.
The program was developed by a national organization called Share Our Strength, with materials distributed through partnership with Arkansas Hunger Alliance. Trinity provided the kitchen space as part of their partnership with Tri Cycle. Ozark Natural Foods provided food at wholesale prices. Other professional dietitians and cooks from NWA offered their time, including Barbara Parker, nutritionist and Tri Cycle volunteer; Heather Artripe of ONF; Donna Shepherd, Tri Cycle board member; Cheryl Willis, dietetic and nutrition student from the UofA; Lia Danks, author of Building Your Ark; and others.
The current grant cycle for the program includes one additional class set for Sat., Jan. 11 from 4 – 7 p.m. called Shopping Matters. This will include a trip to ONF and Walmart where participants learn and discuss ways of buying nutritious meals on a low budget.
To find out how you can get involved, and/or to attend the class, contact Joanna Pollock at 708-828-5695 or Barbara Parker at 479-236-4945. More Farm to Table programs are expected in the future.