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When Lorae Garland signed up for a Gleaners’ Cooking Matters™ course, she didn’t expect it to have lasting effect.
“Originally I signed up for the groceries, to be honest. But once I came, I realized that there were things I could learn,” she said.
Garland registered for the six-week Cooking Matters course at her son’s school in Madison Heights. The course was one of 367 that Gleaners conducted last year, helping over 4,000 families spend their food budgets smarter and eat healthier through education on topics such as food budgeting, food shopping, label reading, food storage and safety, food preparation and healthy recipes.
As a single mother, Garland budgets carefully to meet all the needs for her household. But like many people, she was sacrificing the quality of food she put on the table, having perceived healthy foods to be more expensive and out-of-reach for her family.
“Growing up, my mother made sure we ate healthfully. But as a nurse, she wasn’t always concerned about the cost. I felt that was different for me in raising my son.”
After taking the Cooking Matters course, Garland noted that wiser shopping and proper food storage was making a big difference in the quality of food the family had. She discovered they were able to eat better and cut back on food expenses.
Joe Nader, Executive Chef of Levy Restaurants at Ford Field, has volunteered his time to teach Cooking Matters classes since 2011. Having grown up on food assistance, Nader is well aware of the challenges faced by families with a limited food budget.
“I know what it’s like,” says Nader. “I know the challenges people face every day, making decisions on a strict budget, and I know that what we teach in the Cooking Matters class – the general nutrition, cooking and shopping skills – makes an immediate difference in people’s lives.”
“You can see the ‘aha moment’ when they realize that they have the power to change how they eat and how they live. That’s the best part for me; knowing that they are going to go home that night and start making immediate decisions that will make their lives better.”