The Central Texas Food Bank has been providing CHOICES nutrition education classes to our community for years. Thanks to a generous donor, for the first time, we were able to provide the groceries clients needed to make recipes they learned in class at home.
Having consistent attendance can be challenging in our adult nutrition classes. Attendance in the first class is usually 12 to 14 students. By the end of the series, it can be as low as four to seven participants. The series at Brooke Elementary started with 10 participants and continued to increase throughout the entire nine-week series. There were nearly 20 people in class one week! All participants made the best effort to come to class, whether they were moms, grandparents, were baby-sitting or worked in the cafeteria.
Excitement filled the air each week as the grocery distribution part of the class neared. The clients were eager to get their groceries. They liked receiving foods they had not tried or purchased before even more. Kale and Brussel sprouts were vegetables that many of the families in this class had never tried or purchased before.
After our nutrition educator Beatriz made the Kale and Brussel Sprouts Salad and provided students with the ingredients, Sandra, one of the participants, stayed after class to tell Beatriz how excited she was to go home and make it for her teenagers. Besides sending a picture of the home-cooked meal to our nutrition educator, she also sent it to her classmates to encourage them to make the recipe.
Alma, one of the class participants who had perfect attendance, was skeptical about making the healthy recipes at first. During the first couple of classes she would make comments like, “I don’t really see why I should cook. We always go to fast food places such as McDonalds or use whatever leftovers we have from the previous days.”
As Beatriz prepared healthy recipes like Lentil Tacos, Tofu Chorizo and Pinto Bean Chili, Alma realized she really liked all the recipes they were making in class. She even started making the recipes at home each week and sharing them with her coworkers.
Beatriz also taught a children’s class at Brooke Elementary. While she was teaching the kids about grains and reviewing the foods that belong in the grains food group, Sophia, one of the students, pointed out oatmeal.
“My mommy has been making oatmeal with strawberries, blueberries and pecans and I love it. I eat it every, day,” Sophia said.
Sophia’s mom had been in the adult nutrition class the previous week where she had learned about grains and how to make Overnight Oats, which is made with oatmeal, fruit, milk and pecans. After learning the recipe, Sophia’s mom made it for her family.
The groceries clients received made an even greater impact for families struggling to make ends meet.
“[I’m] very thankful for the food because my husband lost his job and we have been struggling. The food is one less meal we have to worry about,” one of the clients wrote down on one of the weekly anonymous class surveys.
Most of the comments in the surveys expressed how grateful clients were for the healthy food they were receiving.
Engagement in class is key to a successful series and giving out groceries has increased engagement. The group would share pictures of the recipe with their fellow classmates, and also share other ingredients that they added it make it their own.
Seeing the clients motivated to take the groceries home for their families are some of the most pleasant moments for our CHOICES nutrition educators.
The CHOICES Nutrition Education team strives to empower the community with the skills needed to live a healthy lifestyle. For more information about scheduling classes, contact our Nutrition Education Manager, Mary Agnew, RDN, LD at email@example.com.