Get to know a Gleaner: Cooking Matters volunteer inspired to join Gleaners team

Klair Urbin says food is her life and that’s no joke! She’s a Wayne State University alumni with a double major in Biology and Nutrition & Food Science and has spent the last eight years studying food and nutrition while cooking professionally. She spends most of her free time in the kitchen or gardening and loves making food with her friends.

“My passion for food stems from an early frustration of being exposed to poor dietary habits,” she says. “Growing up, there was literally never a fresh vegetable in the house. I had never even tasted broccoli until I was 18!”

Before coming to Gleaners as one of the new Cooking Matters Coordinators, Klair says she’d done a little bit of everything – she’s worked as a chef, server, clinical nutritionist and a research associate. Her current research at WSU focuses on food-based medicines in the treatment of lung cancer (how inspiring is that?).

Klair has been with Gleaners for two months and prior to that, she’d volunteered with Cooking Matters as a nutrition and culinary instructor for three years. As a Cooking Matters coordinator, she says no two days are exactly the same because there are so many variables to a Cooking Matters class.

“The size of the groups, the age-level, the location – these ever-shifting pieces keep the job exciting and fun!” she says. “But the best part of my day is definitely the time I spend in the classroom – from sharing my knowledge and passion to learning something new from both the volunteers and the participants.”  

Klair says she excited to share her experience of overcoming limited food options and to empower individuals to gain access to nutritious and enjoyable food. Her inspiration to work with Cooking Matters and Gleaners stemmed from this desire, after all.

“My last class as a volunteer with Cooking Matters was with parents of preschoolers,” says Klair. “Seeing these parents so excited to change their entire family’s habits was profound to me, knowing that the efforts they were making could have a multi-generational effect. I was so touched by this experience and knew, with my skillset, Cooking Matters was where I could make the greatest impact. I looked into the full-time coordinator position [at Gleaners] right away!”

Fun facts: Klair speaks conversational French, is an enthusiastic karaoke performer and her full name is Klair Annette – like the instrument!