July 11, 2013
Today Capital Area Food Bank posted a blog entry about a class I taught back in March. The inspiration for the article was a personal article I wrote about teaching the class. The marketing department decided to shorten it and write a different article in third person. I approved it while I was really busy with other things. it was not till after it was posted that I thought about how there was something lost in translation. I intentionally wrote in personal stories to make the article special. Special because I have been wanting to teach this class before I was even employed at CAFB. Back when I was living in Waco (2011) I saw this class on the Share Our Strength website and immediately wanted to do it in my community. So, I wanted to share the original article with those of you who care to read it.
To be clear, I am in no way bashing Capital Area Food Bank. The point of the article was to educate our donors and the public about how we also empower people in life. That mission was accomplished. I am so grateful to have a job that lets me do things like give people a tour of the grocery store. How cool is that?!
New CHOICES Class Empowers Savvy Shoppers
When it comes to grocery shopping, I have always been a huge fan. It was part of a weekly tradition my dad and I had. Every Saturday we would go to the grocery store, and I would help him pick out groceries for the week. He was a single dad with four kids, so making healthy recipes from scratch was paramount to his budget.
Now that I am an adult, I am amazed at all the friends I have that absolutely dread the grocery store. They often request I go with them for the moral support. When the Nutrition Department here at Capital Area Food Bank decided to partner with Share Our Strength and add their Cooking Matters at the Store class to our CHOICES class list, I was thrilled. Cooking Matters at the Store is a class taught in a local grocery store giving families the opportunity to learn how to make healthy food choices on a limited budget. No two tours are the same, but each tour focuses on identifying economical ways of purchasing fruits and vegetables, comparing unit prices, food labels and identifying whole grains. My hope was to instill an excitement (or at least eliminate a fear) of grocery shopping.
I was excited to have the opportunity to pilot the class with a group of teenagers and young adults that I had previously taught as well. We had a mixed group from a few transitional living homes including Life Works and The Settlement Home. Many of these young adults were transitioning out of their group home and into their own place. They were excited about the prospect of cooking their own meals, but did not have much knowledge about doing so.
We chose HEB as our store and partnered with Fresh Chef’s Society, which is a local nonprofit that aims to create a medium for foster care youth to learn the art of cooking from community chefs and culinary experts. The people at HEB were very accommodating and generously provided each participant with a $10 HEB gift card and a three course meal prepared by their Cooking Coach Specialists in store. The $10 gift card was used for the $10 challenge. Each participant was to buy a healthy item from each of the following categories: Whole Grains Foods, Fruits, Vegetables, Lean Protein and Low-fat or Nonfat Dairy while staying within the $10 limit.
The tour started in the produce section, comparing prices of vegetables and fruits that were precut to those that are not. Everyone was quite surprised when we found that precut carrots and celery sticks were more than double the price of a whole bag of carrots or celery. We were also able to sample radishes, which several of the participants had not tried before. This root vegetable packed with nutrients is often overlooked. Radishes area very good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium. They also make a great low calorie addition to salads.
I really saw the participant’s ears perk up in the bread aisle, where I had them all pick up bread that they would normally buy and look at the ingredients and fiber content. They were surprised to learn that nutrient claims such as “multi-grain” and ingredients like wheat flour did not mean bread was a whole grain food. They learned to look for a first ingredient of “whole wheat flour” or “100% whole grain” and 3 grams or more of fiber per serving when finding a healthy bread product.
What I really enjoyed about teaching this class was how interactive it was. There was no power point presentation. Instead, I was able get each class member involved analyzing food labels and unit pricing. Most of the participants had never heard of unit price, so it was surprising to them that bigger cans or bags of food were not always a better buy. By looking at the unit price and food label, they were able to determine which foods were lower in price and better for your body. This class really empowered the participants and gave them the tools they needed to be a more informed shopper.
For more information or to schedule a class, contact Angela Henry, nutrition education manager, as (512) 684-2502 or email email@example.com.