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TAFB Volunteer Experience: Cooking Matters

By Becky Volk
Social Media Specialist, Tarrant Area Food Bank

What’s Cookin’

Tarrant Area Food Bank’s (TAFB) mission emphasizes the importance of offering educational and innovative solutions to hunger and poor nutrition. One way we do that is through Cooking Matters®, a program of Share Our Strength. Cooking Matters is a hands-on program that teaches people how to get the best nutrition possible on a limited budget.

Nutrition, cooking, food budgeting and shopping techniques are all key parts of the program. Participants are provided with groceries to take home at the end of each class so that they can practice and share the healthy recipes with their families. Adults and families can take Cooking Matters courses free of charge.

Part of Team TAFB

Jennifer Hoang is a clinical dietitian with Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance and a Cooking Matters volunteer. Jennifer is no stranger to TAFB. Several years ago, she volunteered in our Quality Control room with students from her high school class.

However, it wasn’t until Jennifer was a student at Texas Woman’s University that she became aware of the issue on childhood hunger and how it affects families here in DFW. As a nutrition major with an emphasis in dietetics, Jennifer participated in a Cooking Matters class and learned of the benefits this resource can be for the community.

“We can do something about hunger,” said Jennifer.

While attending Texas Woman’s University, Jennifer volunteered as a Cooking Matters assistant. In that role, she helped with the shopping and clean up for for each class. Today, Jennifer leads each lesson as a nutrition instructor.

Nutrition is Key

Just because you are putting food into your body, especially convenient or fast food, does not mean you are nourishing your body. Jennifer feels that having access to and knowledge about nutritious food is important. She emphasizes to Cooking Matters participants that overall, they will begin to feel better with the right nutrients.

“It just takes a little bit of knowledge.” – Jennifer Hoang

The most rewarding aspect of volunteering in the Cooking Matters program for Jennifer is watching participants grow. Their cooking skills noticeably increase from the beginning of the six-week course to the end of the course. Each student’s progress is measured by their ability to prepare a meal using at least three out of the five basic food groups.

Put the “U” in Volunteer

There are several ways to support the Cooking Matters program. You can volunteer as a culinary or nutrition instructor, course manager or assistant, Spanish interpreter or store tour leader. Join Team TAFB. Register today!