Summer Education Interns Teach Cooking Matters

Our Summer 2014 Education interns just finished delivering our first ever English Language Cooking Matters Class - read this report out by interns Diane Abigail Asio and Veronica Gutierrez

Cooking Matters is a six-week long course that provides adults the opportunity to learn about nutrition and how to cook healthy recipes. The intended outcomes of the class are for the participants to cook with more vegetables, and to replace sugars, fats and salts in their diets with healthier options. The education interns, Veronica and Abby, who taught the classes, believe the course was successful in meeting the intended outcomes. A majority of the participants stated that by attending the Cooking Matters classes they became more empowered to choose healthier foods when shopping, to buy produce from the farmer’s market and to make homemade meals with their families at home.

Veronica and Abby prepared for this class with the help of Roberta Ritter Spier, an educator who has taught the previous Spanish Cooking Matters classes. Roberta used her skills and past experiences to recommend different topics that should be taught and helped choose the activities and healthy recipes that would be used each week. The education director, Monica Benavides assisted by getting the ingredients that were needed for the recipes. Monica also observed the classes and gave feedback and tips on how to improve the class. Through this process, Veronica and Abby gained the necessary tools and experience they needed to feel more confident teaching the class on their own.


The Cooking Matters’ participants consisted of middle-aged, and retired seniors, some who already had health issues. They attended Cooking Matters in hopes of changing their diet, so that they could improve their health. Initially Veronica and Abby were uncertain of how the participants would engage with them; however, after the first class, they found that the participants were the main reason why they enjoyed teaching Cooking Matters. Unlike most classes, where the teacher would talk most of the time, the participants in this Cooking Matters class shared their personal stories of how they cooked their meals at home and ways in which they could make their dishes healthier. Their ability to feed off of each other’s knowledge and experiences not only brought them closer together, but also allowed them to become more receptive to leading a healthier lifestyle.

Although Veronica and Abby have different educational backgrounds, they were able to use their skills to enhance the participants learning experience. Veronica is specialized in teaching others how foods could help fight against certain diseases, while Abby is more knowledgeable of how health issues could be manifested, their signs and symptoms and how to manage them. Through their shared learning, they became more proficient in their field of expertise and learned alternative ways to care for certain illnesses, whether it is through foods or medicines. While teaching the classes, Veronica became more confident in answering questions that pertained to nutrition, while Abby expanded her knowledge of using foods to fight against obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, and cancers. By cooking with the participants, they learned to take the lead in demonstrating how to utilize the fresh vegetables and fruits from Veggielution to cook delicious and healthy meals. These experiences allowed them to share their passion for helping others realize what healthy eating could do for their overall health. 

An interview with Alice; one of the participants from Cooking Matters on how she felt the class benefited her.

How did you hear about this class? “I heard about this class from my friend Lucy, she lives in the same senior housing homes as me. I became interested in this class because I wanted to learn about cooking and eating better and I felt I could learn that from this class.”

Have you been to Veggielution before? “I have been to Emma Prusch Park but not to the farm. I was excited to learn that there was a farm that sold fresh veggies.”

What did you get out of this class? “Knowledge of using herbs, sugar content in foods, looking at food labels and realizing the content in foods. Using spices to replace salt in my foods was important. I have high blood pressure and since I have been making these changes my health has improved. I wake up now with my fingers less swollen.”

Did you learn about any new vegetables? “Yes I learned about lemon cucumber and it was delicious. Other vegetables I had heard about but I was not sure how to use them, like putting chia seeds and mint in water. I really liked that and want to buy some for myself.”

“I think this class will benefit many people and future participants will really enjoy it. There is so much to take away and learn from this class.”

If you are interested in participating a Cooking Matters class, please visit our Cooking Matters Page.