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Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters®, formerly known as Operation Frontline and nationally sponsored by ConAgra Foods Foundation, empowers families with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to prepare healthy and affordable meals. The national program brings together local culinary and nutrition experts and volunteers to lead hands-on courses that give participants the know-how to select tasty and low-cost ingredients, stretch them across multiple meals, and use healthy cooking techniques and recipes that help them provide the best nourishment possible to their families. Since 1993, Cooking Matters has grown to serve more than 17,000 families each year across the country, helping them learn how to eat better on a budget. Today, more than 85% of Cooking Matters participants graduate, taking with them improved nutrition practices, eating habits, and food budgeting skills.

Cooking Matters has been running in New Hampshire since 2000, and in 2004 the New Hampshire Food Bank began hosting the program in an effort to serve the entire state. Here in New Hampshire, Cooking Matters is locally sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets, who provide funding for our Cooking Matters van and food for our various classes.

The different classes offered through Cooking Matters are:

  • Cooking Matters for Adults is a six week program that teaches low-income adults with children about healthy meal preparation and sensible shopping on a limited budget. Each participant takes home the ingredients needed to duplicate each recipe. This class is also offered in Spanish, and there is an optional supplement that addresses Diabetes.
  • Cooking Matters for Families is a six week series for school-age children and their families to come together in the kitchen to learn about healthy eating and the importance of family mealtime. Topics include fast foods, school meal programs and family dining strategies. This class is also offered in Spanish.
  • Cooking Matters for Parents of Preschoolers is very similar to Cooking Matters for Families, but addresses the particular concerns regarding the diet of preschool-age children. This class is also offered in Spanish.
  • Cooking Matters for Kids is a six week class designed to teach kids ages 8-12 the basics of nutrition, cooking and healthy eating. The class focuses on hands-on learning, with children preparing healthy, low-cost, and tasty meals and snacks.
  • Cooking Matters for Teens is a six week program that teaches teens ages 12-18 to make healthy food choices and prepare nutritious, delicious low-cost meals and snacks. Each lesson emphasizes the importance of health eating, physical activity, and food safety through hands-on learning activities.
  • Cooking Matters for Child Care Professionals teaches child care professionals about healthy meal preparation and creating a healthy food environment for the kids in their care.

As these programs expand their missions to help move our clients to self-sufficiency, we will empower the hungry to become more self-sufficient and eventually independent of our assistance and the assistance of the 400+ registered agencies we serve throughout the state.

Cooking Matters is evaluated for the short term and long term. Therefore we know it has lasting positive impact on people's lives.

To Volunteer With Us

If you are interested in becoming a class volunteer, please contact Julie Hodgson at jhodgson@nhfoodbank.org or (603) 669-9725 *133. Classes are now occurring all around the state.

The success of Cooking Matters classes depends on our dedicated team of volunteer culinary and nutrition professionals. Beyond these roles, there are many opportunities to help bring families and individuals together with healthy food and living skills for those who may not be a wiz in the kitchen or feel comfortable teaching nutrition.

  • Class Assistant- Help Cooking Matters staff and class instructors implement a class series. Class assistants may assist instructors to teach and manage lessons, lead class activities, assist with the assembly of take-home bags, and help with set up and clean up.
    • Time commitment: Training plus 18 hrs per class series
  • Class Shopper- Shoppers will purchase groceries for class lessons and take-home bags as well as work with our staff to develop grocery lists. Shoppers deliver food to their class location(s) each week.
    • Time commitment: Initial training plus approximately 6 hrs per week
  • Class Coordinator- Coordinators work with the Cooking Matters staff and volunteer instructors to facilitate classes. They help to manage class time, ensure that topics of curriculum are covered, put together take-home bags of groceries, and deliver supplies to their class.
    • Time commitment: 18 hrs for one 6 week class series. Requires additional travel time.

If your agency is interested in hosting a Cooking Matters class, click here to download our application and fax it to Cooking Matters Coordinator Julie Hodgson at 603-669-0270. Call 603-669-9725 or email jhodgson@nhfoodbank.org for more information.


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