By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator
Many people don’t realize this, but the Food Bank of Delaware’s outreach programs extend beyond handing food to hungry people.
Our mission of alleviating hunger in Delaware also means we offer on-going, hands-on education. The foundation of these classes includes how to make healthy choices when it comes to food. Included in some classes is some basic financial education as well.
These free classes are taught by trained, certified registered dieticians and Community Nutrition Educators who tailor the sessions to meet the needs of the students. For example, the Food Bank offers classes to children in schools and child-care centers, to senior citizens, and also to military moms.
Delaware is home to one of the largest Air Force bases in the country, so a program is offered to military members and their spouses who are assigned to Dover Air Force Base.
Michele Freedman, herself a military mom and a part-time Community Nutrition Educator at the Food Bank of Delaware, recruited prospective students to attend the class, three hours spread over two evenings, at Calvary Assembly of God in Dover, also one of our most active community partners.
The class, Michele explained, is designed so that one evening is considered classroom instruction, and the second evening is dedicated to preparing a recipe which the students select from a cookbook included in the class materials.
During the first session, the class includes two lessons: Choose My Plate and Spend Less Eat Better.
Michele offers plenty of hands-on, interactive instruction about how to make nutritious food choices and how to eat healthy quantities of fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. She also explains how important it is for consumers to read the ingredients on a product label.
“You can’t always tell by the look. Everything on the front of the box is a commercial. Check the back of the box for the ingredients list,” she said.
She also encouraged students to engage in exercise every day.
“Physical activity doesn’t fit on a plate,” Michele said.
Yvonne, whose husband serves in the U.S. Air Force, came to class accompanied by her daughter, Alicia. Both agreed the class was informative and enjoyable.
“I learned a lot,” said Yvonne.
Alicia, a high school freshman, is interested in becoming a chef; she excelled on the interactive quizzes that Michele incorporated into the lessons.
The second half of the class was dedicated to making healthy food choices with a limited budget, so Michele explained that an adult could eat on $6.44 per day by following USDA guidelines.
She encouraged students to shop the perimeter of the store for fruits, vegetables, proteins and dairy products, to purchase store brands, to compare prices, to clip coupons and to plan menus before venturing out to shop.
Michele also offers information about food assistance programs for those who need help, even occasionally.
Students leave with a folder full of information, including lesson summaries and easy-to-remember helpful hints on how to avoid food waste by planning leftover days in the family menu.
The next Military Moms class will be offered Jan. 13 and 15. For more information and registration, please contact Michele Freedman at (302) 424-3301 ext 114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.