By Tina Dirmann
BCBSLA Foundation Staff Writer
If you’re a true Louisianian, then you are certainly familiar with the term “makin’ groceries!” But in this day and age, we are increasingly aware that grocery shopping is more complex than we ever imagined. It’s no longer about just tossing into the basket whatever tastes good and fills up the family. Today, sure, it’s about taste. But also, health. Calories. Freshness…
And bringing all those elements together in one shopping trip? That can be difficult. That’s why we are so impressed with our Fresh Beginnings partners (a Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana supported wellness initiative) who, last year, launched Cooking Matters for Families. A series of six-week courses, led by a team of nutritionist experts from LSU and Southern University Agricultural Center, offers moms, dads, grandmas, kids — anyone with an interest, frankly — nutrition tips, cooking classes and grocery store management skills.
We recently talked to Lyndsi Lambert, project director for Fresh Beginnings, about the program. Earlier this month, Cooking Matters wrapped up its spring 2015 course with a grocery shopping excursion through the aisles of a local Walmart. Forty participants signed up for this season’s session, Lambert said.
“When we started Fresh Beginnings, we took two approaches — food access and health education. As time passed, we realized, you can create healthy food access, but what do people do after they purchase that product? They’ve never seen these produce items, let alone prepared any of it before. So, we spoke to community members and realized they were really interested in cooking classes. I’d already come across the Cooking Matters program and quickly found out that New Orleans organized the classes in their city. I observed their classes and was just sold on the program.
“Sadly, our Challenge Grant funding ends August 31. But we’ve already identified partners interested in keeping the program going and maintaining the classes. Our LSU partners are certainly interested, for example, and we’re in conversations with others to see if it’s a good fit for them! ”
And that’s what we love hearing about most — programs we had a hand in rolling out, now set to keep on rolling and growing. Kudos to our Fresh Beginnings partners for launching this amazing program. And for more information, check in with our Fresh Beginnings leaders at Healthy BR!