BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --The Good Shepherd Food Bank not only collects donated food for needy families, it is also teaching those families how to cook that food. It is a program called Cooking Matters, and it is now in its' third year statewide. Classes are hosted at churches or community centers like the Bangor Community Center. Nutritionists teach participants how to plan healthy diets, and chefs teach them how to prepare their meals. Hannaford donates the food for the classes and the participants get to take home a bag of groceries and then try cooking the meals at home.
"We have to focus on the short term immediate needs of families in our communities but we also have to look for the longer term solutions that help put supports in place that allow them to provide for themselves," explained Melissa Houston of the good Shepherd Food Banlk.
The Cooking Matters program does just that, according to Jen Beek, a class participant.
"That's the number one thing we learned in this class how to stretch your food dollars and get a good meal out of it," Beek said.
The classes are 2 hours, and run for 6 weeks. According to Good Shepherd, last year there were 1200 particpants for 120 classes which were held in all 16 Maine counties.