Blog originally posted on NoKidHungry.org
When Cristy Sellers and Stephanie Harris of the Arkansas Department of Health attended our Arkansas No Kid Hungry stakeholder meeting, it was the first time they had heard about Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program. The two women recognized immediately the profound benefits these programs would have for the thousands of WIC (Women, Infants and Children) mothers they serve across the state.
That realization resulted in a great opportunity for collaboration. On March 7th, WIC educators from all 75 counties in the state attended a full day of training to become Cooking Matters at the Store tour leaders. This was the opportunity we were looking for: a meaningful, efficient and sustainable way to bring important food skills to moms with young kids.
One 30-year veteran of the WIC program commented, “Of all the continuing education I have had in my career, this was by far the most useful and has the most direct value to my clients. I especially appreciate that it is evidence based.”
Another reported that the training “…will help me be more aware of the food value both financially and nutritionally, and I learned how to combine WIC items with other groceries.”
There was also consensus that leading grocery store tours would allow them more time with their clients. Typically, educators have about 15 minutes with each WIC mom. The Cooking Matters at the Store tours will mean they have more quality time with each mom. They also saw the potential benefit of supportive interaction within the group.
We challenged the WIC educators to conduct at least one tour with at least eight participants, helping us teach even more families how to cook and shop for healthy food for their families on a budget. It’s still early yet, but so far five counties have contacted us about doing tours in their communities!
We are extremely excited about this opportunity to collaborate with WIC educators in the state and know that together, we can help make no kid hungry a reality in Arkansas.