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Understand the Ins and Outs of Healthy Eating

March, 2019
  • Cooking Matters held a nutrition session at the QCC Food Pantry and Resource Center.
    Cooking Matters held a nutrition session at the QCC Food Pantry and Resource Center.

Knowledge is a powerful tool and the recent nutritional information session at the QCC Food Pantry and Resource Center by, Cooking Matters Massachusetts, proved that point to over a dozen QCC students. Cooking Matters programs were developed to teach parents and caregivers with limited food budgets how to make healthy food choices. Those students who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits were eligible to attend and learn about nutrition and at the end received a $20 gift card from Price Chopper.

The students who participated in, what is known as a “Cooking Matters at the Store tour” was held in a classroom on the college’s main campus. According to Cooking Matters Community Engagement Associate Kristin Cunningham, during these tours, students used visuals aids to discuss how they shop for food and what techniques they could adopt to save money, while making healthy choices

“Throughout the night, students developed skills for comparing foods for cost and nutritional value. Participants practiced identifying whole grain options; discussed how to use unit price to find the best deal; reviewed how to use the nutrition facts label to compare products; and analyzed the pros and cons when choosing among fresh, frozen, and canned produce,” Ms. Cunningham said.

One of the things that seemed to surprise the students the most was that frozen and canned fruits and vegetables retain a lot of their nutritional value, which can make them a good food choice option.

“People often think of fresh as nutritionally superior, yet this class debunked some of these preconceived notions. We discussed the fact that exposure to light, water, and air (and long travel time across the world!) can cause fresh fruits and vegetables to lose some of their nutritional value.  This led to great student discussions on how to procure food that hasn’t traveled very far (places like farm stands and farmers markets),” she continued.  

Students also shared tips on how to use their SNAP dollars at local farmers markets around Worcester. “Many farmers markets double your spending power when using SNAP at their market, which makes it affordable to buy fruits and vegetables that haven’t traveled very far,” Ms. Cunningham said

Visit QCC’s Food Pantry and Resource Center to learn more about the services that are available.