Cooking Matters Massachusetts Update--March 2014
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Cooking Matters and Rosie's Place:
Empowering Women through Food Skills Education

Cooking Matters began its partnership with Rosie’s Place in 2012. Rosie’s Place, located in Boston, was founded in 1974 and is a sanctuary for poor and homeless women. They serve 210 meals per day: breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday and dinner 365 days a year. The overnight shelter serves approximately 300 guests per year. Advocates provide services to approximately 12,000 poor and homeless women every year. Much more than just a shelter or a place to get a healthy meal, however, Rosie’s Place provides many resources, such as workshops and trainings for women to maintain their dignity, become self-sufficient and find security in their lives.

Cooking Matters recently spoke to Katy Erker, the Self Advocacy Manager from Rosie’s Place, to learn more about how our courses, tours and outreach fit into their mission. According to Katy, “The self-advocacy program is grounded in the belief that women who are experiencing homelessness and poverty can be their own best resources and advocates if we give them opportunities to learn and build their knowledge and confidence.” Cooking Matters was a perfect fit for the Rosie’s Place mission!

Since our partnership began, we have run one 6-week course, five Cooking Matters at the Store grocery store tours, and two workshops designed to provide Rosie’s Place guests with an opportunity to get basic nutrition and food budgeting tips. During the 6-week course, they had a number of women who were recent immigrants. They were able to connect with other guests who they hadn’t been able to connect with before because of the experience of sharing food and stories in the course. Katy said, “Now they’re more integrated into other services at Rosie’s Place because of the experience. They would have gotten there eventually, but Cooking Matters really helped them get there sooner and in a positive way.”

One of the most amazing effects of the course was that, after the 6-week program was over, one of the guests came forward and said she had cooking experience and wanted to use our toolkit “Cooking Matters in Your Community” with other guests who had not been able to participate in the course. With a nutrition intern, this guest was able to provide a great educational experience for other guests. The nutrition intern and the guest-turned-chef met each week to plan the workshop, create a shopping list, and implement six weeks of informative, interactive workshops for other guests. They cooked together. They ate together. They built community and empowered one another to make healthier food choices. Guests watched another guest take a leadership role, give back to the community and succeed. It was an invaluable experience for all who participated.

We asked Katy specifically how the grocery store tours fit into their goals to build self-sufficiency. She said, “Guests usually have to rely on service providers to provide information. So often poor and homeless women are told how to live. In Cooking Matters programs, staff and volunteers help people become their own best advocates. Here’s how to navigate the grocery store and advocate for yourself there. With Cooking Matters, people can then make their own informed decisions about how to make healthy delicious meals on a budget.” This speaks directly to our teaching philosophy that our participants are experts in their own lives—that if we provide information, they can decide what changes they wish to make.

Katy went on to say that the tours give guests good information and that they are really eye-opening, specifically around unit pricing. She laughed, saying: “Guests are arguing with tours leaders about unit pricing because they don’t believe it’s true!” Understanding unit pricing, one of the key concepts of the tour, has made a big difference in how guests now understand how to save money at the store. Guests also expressed that learning how to identify whole grains was helpful, specifically understanding that if a product says “wheat bread” it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a whole grain. Reading food labels, another key concept of the tour, also hit home with guests.  One guest had been under the impression that “trans fat” meant “low fat.” Participating in a tour helped clarify this information for her. “People have also been really intrigued by learning about the layout of the store and shopping the perimeter,” Katy shared. “They’re sharing the information they learn with other guests.”

What’s in store for future collaboration between Cooking Matters and Rosie’s Place? Rosie’s Place is considering offering a monthly standing tour to guests. Most guests cannot otherwise get to a regular grocery store due to transportation issues, so two options may be offered for those who participate: an independent shopping trip and a Cooking Matters at the Store tour. “If guests want to go and shop and spend their SNAP benefits, that’s fine. If they want to do a tour, that’s great. Those who do the tour will get a $10 gift card.”

Cooking Matters programming has been received positively by Rosie’s Place guests.  Katy expressed, “We would do it more often if we had more time to get people involved. It’s always one of the favorite sessions.” 
Two Exciting Events on One Exciting Night!

Happy Hour at Lincoln Restaurant
Join us for a Volunteer Happy Hour on Monday, April 7th from 5:30 - 7:30pm at No Kid Hungry supporter Lincoln Restaurant in South Boston. Enjoy delicious appetizers, mingle with Cooking Matters MA staff, swap Cooking Matters stories with other volunteers, and delight in libations from Lincoln’s cash bar. Want to make a night of it? Check out their full dinner menu!
Cooking Matters Fundraiser at Tremont 647
Join Tremont 647 and Chef Andy Husbands on April 7th, 2014 for the 17th annual Cooking Matters MA Benefit! Tickets for the benefit are $150 per person and include a reception with passed appetizers and a full 6-course Italian style dinner with wine pairings. The guest chefs for this year are Mark Rafali, Josh Ziskin of La Morra, Dante DeMagistris of Dante, Elise Wiggins of Panzano, Mark Ladner of Del Posto, and Nicole Coady of Fixx Chocolates. 100% of the proceeds benefit Cooking Matters MA. The staff is generously donating their time and their tips. Reservations are required. Please call (617) 266-4600 to secure a reservation today!

Cooking Matters in the News:
The article, Treating Hunger As a Health Issue in the U.S. News & World Report highlights Mass. General Hospital and their partnership with Cooking Matters MA. Through their partnership with Cooking Matters, Mass. General Hospital is making an impact on people's health by addressing hunger as a health issue:

“Mass. General has taken a bigger step at two of its primary care clinics in nearby Chelsea and Revere. Beyond screening all patients for food insecurity and signing up qualified individuals for SNAP and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) programs, the clinics also offer food pantries and a six-week healthy meals cooking course, thanks to a partnership with Cooking Matters Massachusetts."  
Job Opportunity:
Looking for part-time work? Share Our Strength is looking for a Cooking Matters Contract Coordinator at the USCG Air Station in Cape Cod, MA. Please see the link below to get more information and/or apply! (And be sure to tell them Cooking Matters sent you if you do!) Cooking Matters Contract Coordinator, USCG Air Station Cape Cod
Taste of the Nation Boston:
Come celebrate Boston's hottest and most trend-forward food and beverage event on Tuesday, April 29th: Taste of the Nation Boston. Set at Cruiseport, Taste of the Nation features the largest gathering of award-winning chefs from the region. 

Join Honorary Chefs Jody Adams, Joanne Chang, Gordon Hamersley, Andy Husbands, and Tony Maws and over 60 of Boston's top chefs as we dine on delicious tastings paired with the best beer, wine and spirits the city has to offer. Learn more at Taste of the Nation Boston.

For the month of March: Get 10% off your purchase using discount code TASTEMADNESS during checkout. 
Upcoming Volunteer Trainings: 
Become a tour leader!
Want to learn how to a lead an interactive grocery store tour? In honor of National Volunteer Week, we are running an in-person store tour training as an alternative to the online training or as an additional resource for those who have already completed the online training. Join us for a daytime new volunteer orientation and tour leader training on April 10th from 10:00am-12:00pm at our South Boston office.

Prefer to complete your tour training online? Fill out this short online form to be enrolled in our tour leader web-based training.
Become a course instructor!
Looking to commit to six week courses instead? Join us for a new volunteer orientation and course instructor training on March 31st from 5:45-7:45pm at our South Boston office. RSVP for an in-person, new volunteer training by emailing

Tweet of the month: Jeane and Jahnique once struggled with hunger but now they're thriving. Watch this video to learn how: #NoKidHungry

We need the following volunteers for March and April courses and tours! Visit the online calendar of events for additional details. 

6-week Courses:

  • 5 Chefs
  • 7 Nutritionists
  • 3 Class Assistants
  • 8 Shoppers
3/4 - 4/8 
T, 6:30 - 8:30p in Brighton
Chef, Shopper

3/4 - 4/8 
T, 5:30 - 7:30p in Plymouth
Nutritionist, Assistant, Shopper

3/5 - 4/9
W, 6:30 - 8:30p in Franklin
Chef, Nutritionist, Shopper

3/6 - 4/10
TH, 5:00 - 7:00p in Jamaica Plain
Chef, Nutritionist, Shopper

3/11 - 4/15
T, 9:00 - 11:00a in Taunton
Nutritionist, Shopper

3/12 - 4/16 
W, 9:00 - 11:00a in Mattapan
Nutritionist, Assistant, Shopper

3/12 - 4/16 
W, 6:00 - 8:00p in Chelsea
Chef, Nutritionist, Assistant, Shopper

3/25 - 5/6 (except 4/22)
T, 5:00 - 7:00p in Brockton
Chef, Nutritionist, Shopper

Grocery Store Tours:
  • 8 Tour Leaders
3/6, Market Basket
TH, 6:00 - 7:30p in Somerville
Tour Leader

3/11, Shaws
T, 10:00 - 11:30a in Boston
Tour Leader 

3/14, Shaws
F, 9:00 - 10:30a in Allston
Tour Leader 

3/20, Stop and Shop
Th, 9:00 - 10:30a in Jamaica Plain
Tour Leader

3/20, Stop and Shop
TH, 10:00 - 11:30a in Raynham
Tour Leader

3/26, Hannaford
W, 10:00 - 11:30a in Waltham
Tour Leader

3/28, Market Basket
F, 10:30 - 12:00p in Chelsea
Tour Leader

4/2,  Hannaford
W, 6:00 - 7:15p in Gardner
Tour Leader

New Volunteer Tour Training:
April 10th, 10:00-12:00p
318 West 2nd St. #2
Boston, MA 02127

New Volunteer Course Training:

March 31st, 5:45 - 7:45p
318 West 2nd St. #2
Boston, MA 02127

We are a 10 minute walk from the Broadway T stop off the red line. Street parking is also available. Please email us to RSVP. 

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