Author: Carolyn Negley, RD, Nutrition Education Manager

This past February, after much anticipation, we reopened The Kitchen at Second Harvest! Since then, we’ve hosted more than 50 community cooking classes—free to the public and geared toward people facing hunger. During each class, a talented member of our nutrition team leads participants in preparing two or three recipes that they can enjoy and repeat at home. Themes vary from “Pita Pizzas” to “Stock Your Freezer.” The aim is for recipes to be delicious, nutritious, low-cost, quick and easy to make. We want to teach participants to cook meals that they will feel confident cooking by themselves. 

During our classes, we practice knife skills and talk about ingredient substitutions so participants can adapt the recipes to accommodate their current pantries or specific dietary needs. Each class also includes a nutrition education activity. These lessons cover topics like whole grains, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, and learning the differences between various types of beans. One of our favorite nutrition games is “restaurateur,” in which participants brainstorm healthy dishes they’d serve in their hypothetical restaurant. The goal is for each meal to meet USDA’s MyPlate guidelines by including fruit, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. We love seeing how creative participants get while applying the nutrition lessons they’ve learned.

We encourage participants to complete a survey after each class to let us know what went well, what could have gone better, and what they hope to gain in future classes. The resounding feedback is that participants are grateful for the opportunity to learn more about nutrition, discover new recipes, gain confidence in the kitchen, and socialize in a friendly, supportive environment.

More recently, we’ve reintroduced additional Kitchen programming such as paid cooking classes and team-building events. Over the summer we hosted two kids cooking camps where young chefs “traveled around the world” making crepes, empanadas, fruit sushi and more. Attendees also learned about how eating nutritious foods can make you feel like a superhero! 

If you’ve looked at The Kitchen’s calendar lately, you may have noticed a sold-out Birria Tacos class and an upcoming Family Pizza Night cooking class. In collaboration with the Volunteer Center and with the generous support of WSECU, we’ve also revamped our Volunteer+ series. These special events begin with volunteering and end with food, drink and merriment in The Kitchen. These events help raise awareness and support for our mission to serve people facing hunger.

We wholeheartedly believe that people learn best experientially and that one of the best ways to build community is by breaking bread together. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to strengthen skills and bonds by sharing time together in The Kitchen—learning, connecting and growing.

The Kitchen was brought into existence more than seven years ago through generous contributions from individual and corporate partners who shared Second Harvest’s  vision to enable people to create affordable, nutritious meals. As we’ve successfully endeavored to relaunch our community cooking classes this year, we’re honored to have received support from both Coordinated Care and Horizon Credit Union, whose sponsorships created significant impact.

To learn more about community cooking classes and discover recipes, please visit: https://secondharvestkitchen.org/.

Feeding Eastern Washington and North Idaho

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