Cooking Matters in Northwest Georgia

Empowering kids in the fight against cancer!

The Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition partnered with Summit Quest and Redmond Regional Medical Center to offer Cooking Matters™, a cooking class for kids and families with a cancer diagnosis.  Cooking Matters™ empowers families at risk of hunger with the skills, knowledge and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals. With the help of volunteer culinary and nutrition experts, course participants learn how to select nutritious and low-cost ingredients and prepare them in ways that provide the best nourishment possible to their families. Many times in families where cancer is present, financial resources are difficult and the traditional caregiver is often too tired or sick to prepare meals on their own. Cooking Matters™ teaches children how to work together with their families in the kitchen, empowering them in their own journey of cancer survivorship.

Summit Quest is a non-profit organization that serves families with a cancer diagnosis, focusing particularly on the needs of the children.  The program provides a variety of support groups and activities designed to allow children to interact with others who are experiencing the same life altering journey.  William James, Executive Director of Summit Quest, invited families from the support group to come together in a fun kitchen environment to learn new techniques and taste new foods.  Dietician Helen Judd and Chef Andrew Ballantine of Redmond Regional Medical Center led participants as they learned about knife and kitchen safety, meal planning, proper food storage and safety, reading nutrition labels, and of course, creating yummy meals together! The group met weekly at a local church where they learned, cooked, ate, and talked long after class was over.  Cooking Matters allowed families to step outside of the traditional support group setting and have some fun while learning coping skills and connecting with one another.

One of the main areas of emphasis of the program in Rome was talking about cancer fighting foods and the role of nutrition in cancer prevention. Many of the children served by Summit Quest realize that having a parent with cancer raises their own cancer risk. Teaching children how to make healthy choices gives them a sense of control over their own future. Participants were given two cookbooks provided by the American Cancer Society, Kid’s First Cookbook and What to Eat During Cancer Treatment, and crockpots were provided for families by the Rome/Floyd Commission on Children and Youth. 

The NWGRCC contracted with Share our Strength to participate in the Cooking Matters Train the Trainer program and have access to resources and materials for the classes.  To find out more about working with Share our Strength and Cooking Matters, go to http://cookingmatters.org/. The Northwest Georgia Regional Cancer Coalition plans on hosting another class session towards the end of the summer, and additional classes throughout the year.