Feeding Hope: Kathy's Story

Four years ago, Kathy was in a wheelchair. Now, she bounces into The Kitchen, eager to learn a new recipe during class.

Kathy began attending free Community Classes in The Kitchen at Second Harvest about three years ago. She was in the midst of making some major changes to improve her health, and getting back into the kitchen was one of them.

Kathy, 60, used to make meals for her parents. But when they passed away, she lost her love of cooking and turned to fast food for most of her meals. That change took a toll on her health; she gained weight, her blood pressure and cholesterol went up, and she eventually had two small strokes. Her doctor told her a big one was on the way if she didn’t make some changes.

Kathy knew that learning to cook healthy meals was a key step in her journey toward health. She had access to lots of healthy foods at her local food bank, but she didn’t know how to cook many of them—at least not in ways that would move her closer to her health goals. During cooking classes at Second Harvest Kathy learned healthy cooking techniques and practiced recipes that incorporate nutritious foods, like brown rice, beans, and vegetables.

“I was more of a ‘fry it’ type of girl. Now I sauté or bake foods,” said Kathy. With these new skills, she’s learned how to make a recipe her own. “The classes have made me put things together that I wouldn’t have thought to put together.”

Now, rather than turning to fast food, Kathy opens up the folder where she keeps all the recipes she’s made in the Community Classes. She uses the food she receives at the food bank to make these healthy and delicious dishes at home. “I’ve had fun with pretty much every recipe,” she said. She even shared all of The Kitchen’s lentil recipes with the cook at the Union Gospel Mission Women’s Shelter, where Kathy works. She sang the praises of the lentil cookie recipe when the cook gave her a doubtful look.

“I tell everybody about The Kitchen. I love it. It’s my favorite thing to do.”