EFNEP Cooking Classes During COVID-19

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EFNEP cooking classes might look a little different during COVID-19, but it is still reaching its audience. Family Foundations, part of the Partnership of Ashe, collaborated with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in Ashe County to find a group of busy parents that wanted to learn more about preparing healthy meals for their family while saving money at the grocery store. EFNEP went virtual to give nutrition educators the ability to reach out in the community in a safe way. The word spread quickly in the community and eight busy moms signed up.

Participants learned food safety tips, how to save money at the grocery store, shopping and cooking smarter, ways to keep the kitchen organized plus tips to keep the family moving more throughout the day for overall better health. Family Foundations EFNEP Cooking Class took it one step further and each family through live Zoom prepared dinner together. Each week participants were given a recipe plus what they could serve as a side to complete the 5 food group MyPlate method. They were also given a shopping list to purchase what they would need so they could see the benefits of meal planning and shopping lists. Every Wednesday night participants knew what was for dinner with less stress helping create a new healthy habit, and dinner was on the table when class was over. EFNEP partnered with the Ashe Sharing Center to give food boxes filled with fresh produce, milk, or meat. Participants reported an average savings of $100.00 or more from their grocery bill that month.

Volunteers

After graduation, each participant was asked what tips were most beneficial. Three said they learned how to keep the sponge they used clean and safe, five expressed that they now thaw foods safely in the refrigerator ahead of time, one said that she now has her pantry and refrigerator organized, four expressed that they better understand how to read the nutrition facts label. All said that they learned new ways to get more vegetables into their families’ diets being clever and incorporating them into the recipes. Each participant was asked what they hope to accomplish in the future. Five want to plan meals more efficiently and compare prices to get healthier foods for less money, three want to practice reading the nutrition facts label, and all eight participants want to experiment with family favorite recipes and prepare them in healthier ways the family will love. Each participant admitted that they need to get creative and get the family more active.

Classes through live Zoom turned out to be a creative, fun way to reach out to busy families to help them learn and practice getting a healthier meal on the table in less time while saving money.