Harvesters’ nutrition education programs empower participants to cook and care for themselves and their communities. Most importantly, participants learn to cook healthy meals, despite living on limited incomes.
As Harvesters’ nutrition services manager, I’m responsible for managing, improving, and growing our Nutrition Services Department. Harvesters’ core nutrition education programs are Project STRENGTH, Kids in the Kitchen, and Teen Eats. We also offer various one-time and short-term classes that cater to the changing needs of our agencies and their clients. Harvesters also partners closely with our network of more than 600 nonprofit agencies to encourage healthy eating and healthy decisions for all of our clients.
Project STRENGTH is an adult nutrition education and hands-on meal preparation program. The eight-week curriculum provides participants with in-depth knowledge of a healthy diet, including nutrition facts, safe cooking practices, shopping strategies, and how to make healthy meals on a budget. Each two-hour class also provides hands-on cooking and food preparation experience, and sends each participant home with a bag full of shelf-stable groceries and produce. We also provide participants with a bound recipe book focused on preparing healthy, tasty meals for less than $2 a serving.
Betty, 75, recently participated in Project STRENGTH at Cathedral Square Towers. Betty loves to cook and finds the recipes she and her friends learn through the program helpful. After careers with a major Kansas City corporation and working with the elderly, Betty has had trouble adjusting to living on a fixed income.
“When I was able to work, I could take care of myself,” she shared. Her income hasn’t changed in 10 years, and she says that with the rising cost of living, it’s starting to run out more quickly each month.
Betty also receives food assistance through SNAP (formerly food stamps), and her daughter and grandson help her get to the grocery store. But, like many SNAP recipients, her benefits only last about half the month. After that, Betty would go hungry without the support of Project STRENGTH and the additional food Harvesters distributes through our agency network.
Fortunately, Project STRENGTH is helping Betty learn to how to get by on her own. Unfortunately, stories like Betty’s aren’t unusual in our community now, when in one in seven people don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
More than 58 percent of Harvesters’ agencies reported an increase in the number of clients served during the previous 12 months. Programs like Project STRENGTH are critical to ensuring that food-insecure children, families, and seniors across our community have access to the food and nutritional knowledge they need to maintain a healthy household.
To find out how you can help and to learn more about our other nutrition education classes, visit www.harvesters.org.
This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.