Cooking Matters Updates
Cooking Matters is having a busy fall season of programming, including a growing list of new sites and upcoming expansion to look forward to. In 2022, Cooking Matters has held classes at a total of 36 sites across Marion County, with 17 of those being brand new to the program this year. New sites this fall include WIC clinics, Early Learning Indiana, Headstart and Glick Properties, which provide affordable housing for low-income individuals and seniors.
In addition, programming has continued at partner sites such as Harrison Hill, Carriage House East, Coburn Place, Saint Vincent de Paul, and Riley Children’s Hospital. Megan Gendig, Cooking Matters Program Manager at Indy Hunger Network, highlighted particularly impactful classes at Coburn Place, a domestic violence shelter.
“While a lot of these women knew how to cook in the past, or prepare a meal for their family in the past, they may have forgotten those due to trauma,” Gendig said. “So they’re finding themselves again in class and it’s the most sweet thing to see, and their kids get excited about meal preparation. They can work together with their moms because at the end of the day, they just came out of a very tragic event or had that experience. It allows them to build that relationship back with their families.”
Many Cooking Matters classes held this fall are virtual, including those with Riley Children’s Hospital. Gendig said that one of her favorite parts of virtual classes for Cooking Matters is seeing the feedback from participants through pictures of the food that they send.
“It is so fun because they do everything they can to make these plates look like they came from a restaurant. It’s so great because we know that we’ve empowered them by teaching what we know in class, and they’re proud of themselves for making a meal. That’s what we want. We want them to feel proud of themselves for doing it, and making it, and feeling like they can do it.”
Looking ahead, major expansion is coming to Cooking Matters in the coming months in the form of new satellite partnerships. Cooking Matters is expanding to five counties (Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Johnson, and Madison) to offer programming at five different partner sites. This is the first time that the program has been offered outside of Marion County.
“One thing I’ve always wanted to do since I started in 2017 was find a way to offer this outside of Marion County,” Gendig said. “While there’s a need here where Indy Hunger Network is based in Marion County, there is also a need outside of this county and there aren’t services like Cooking Matters or anything nutrition-education wise. I’m excited to bring something into these smaller, rural communities and organizations that could really use it.”
Gendig says that the execution of satellite expansion should begin around the start of 2023. In the meantime, stay tuned to Indy Hunger Network’s website or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn for future information about the project. Additionally, IHN is hiring a Cooking Matters Program Coordinator as part of this expansion. To learn more or apply visit: https://www.charitableadvisors.hiringopps.co/job/nonprofit/programs-program-support/15535149/cooking-matters-program-coordinator