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Cooking with class

By Staff | Mar 9, 2015

Mexican night may sound like a special in a local restaurant, but in this case it was the focus of a low-income cooking class.

June Sorensen, the SNAP-Ed Educator for the Faribault County Extension Office, has spent the past few Thursday nights teaching parents some cooking and nutritional tips at Hope United Methodist Church in Blue Earth.

Sorensen invited the mothers or guardians of local Head Start students to attend the series of classes where they would learn the basics of nutrition, cooking and food preparation in general.

“The classes have been held every Thursday night,”?Sorensen says. “We usually have a regular group of participants that come on those nights.”

Evenings are split up into three parts; a nutritional class, cooking and then eating.

“We always start with a little nutrition class,”?Sorensen explains. “We have talked about the different food groups or food safety.”

This particular evening the group learned about safe food handling and how to ensure meats are prepared correctly, the kitchen is cleaned appropriately and to safely store leftovers.

The students of the cooking class received a lot of informational items about that night’s topic as well as magnets and food thermometers.

“After the nutritional class we will learn a new recipe or recipes and go into the kitchen to prepare them,”?Sorensen says.

Last Thursday, the class had a Mexican theme and the students learned three different recipes, including; taco spaghetti skillet, cheesy chicken enchilada bake and taco soup.

The class split into three groups and were joined in the kitchen by volunteers.

“We have lots of people to help out in the kitchen,”?Sorensen says.

The participants of the cooking class varied in skill in the kitchen and the volunteers were there to help if anyone needed assistance with their dish.

While the adults are busy cooking the new dishes in the kitchen, another group of people were very busy in another room.

Since the class participants were found through the local Head Start program, they made it possible for the parents to attend without trying to find extra child care during those evenings.

“The church had provided care for the children while the class was going on,”?Sorensen adds.

The children are in a different room while the parents and guardians are in their nutrition class. But, when the class is over and they head into the kitchen, the children are brought in to help set the tables.

“Then, after the tables are set and the food is done, everyone sits down and eats the food family style,”?Sorensen explains.

Hope UMC not only served as the location for the classes, they contributed so much more.

“The church opened up their facility to us, raised the money for supplies, provided volunteers for the kitchen and provided child care,” Sorensen says.

But, even that’s not all the church raised money for. When the class is over and done and everyone has eaten, they are sent home with something as well.

“Hope UMC also raised money to purchase take home groceries for everyone,”?Sorensen says. “So they can make these dishes again at home.”