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Cooking Matters Class

Nutrition Education

Looking for resources on how to shop and cook healthfully on a budget? Click here!

Conventional thought has been:  “If you’re hungry, any food is better than no food.”  We simply are NOT willing to settle for that.  What a child eats growing up is critical to how well her brain and body develop, and whether she will suffer a lifetime of illness and learning challenges.

From our earliest days of recovering food, before the term “food desert” became popular, we saw how people living in poverty depended on  fast food and canned processed food at the corner mini-mart.  Over two decades ago, we began to see the connection between hunger and obesity, how hungry people often didn’t look hungry.  Survival on cheap and filling processed foods–high in fat, sugar and salt– has now led to an obesity epidemic, even among those suffering from hunger.

IFFS Nutrition Education programs equip low-income communities with the knowledge and skills to buy, prepare, and eat nutritious food on a limited budget.

By emphasizing healthy low-cost ingredients and food resource management, including fresh produce,  our programs empower participants to meet their own food needs and get the most nutrition out of their limited budgets.

Share Our StrengthCooking Matters IFFS Logo

IFFS is the lead partner in North Carolina for Share Our Strength’s nutrition education programs.  As part of the No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America, Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters teaches participants to shop smarter, use nutrition information to make healthier choices, and cook delicious affordable meals.

Cooking Matters

Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters is a six week cooking-based nutrition course that teaches low-income families how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on a limited budget.  We coordinate courses throughout the Triangle, providing all necessary materials and equipment.  We also engage Satellite Partners to provide programming throughout the state, broadening Cooking Matters’ reach across North Carolina.

Cooking Matters at the Store

Food Day Kyle

Cooking Matters at the Store is a guided grocery store tour that helps families make healthy and affordable choices at the supermarket. Participants practice key food shopping skills:

  • Buying fruits and vegetables on a budget
  • Comparing unit prices
  • Reading food labels
  • Identifying whole grain foods

Participants also receive handouts and recipes so they can continue practicing what they learn at home and on future trips to the store. Tours are facilitated by a wide range of local volunteers who are  dietitians, community nutrition educators, culinary professionals, extension agents, or staff of community agencies serving families in need.

Satellite Partnerships

IFFS  expands the reach of Cooking Matters and Cooking Matters at the Store by “training the trainer,” teaching other community organizations how to deliver this programming in their own communities. Read about that impact here.

We are  partnering with Urban Ministries of Wake County, CCAP’s Second Harvest Food Bank in Southeast NC, and YMCA of the Triangle to expand their capacity to conduct nutrition programs with shared staff and resources.

As the Share Our Strength lead partner in North Carolina, IFFS also supports these Satellite Partners:

Cooking Matters Combined 6-Week Courses & Tours Partners:

  • Alliance Medical Ministry (Wake)
  • Allice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education (implementing programming in Fayetteville with Fort Bragg)
  • A PACKed Kitchen at NCSU (Wake)
  • Beloved NC (Wake)
  • Communities in Schools of Randolph County (Randolph)
  • Hospitality House of Boone (Watauga)
  • Martin, Tyrrell, & Washington District Health Department (Washington)
  • No Kid Hungry NC (Orange, Warren, Lenoir, Duplin, Sampson)
  • Second Harvest Food Bank North West (Forsyth, Randolph, Guilford, Iredell, and Caldwell)
  • Southwestern Community College (Jackson)
  • Urban Ministries of Wake County (Wake)
  • YMCA Triangle (various)

Cooking Matters at the Store Partners:

  • Carteret County Health Department (Morehead City)
  • Carolina Family Health Center (Wilson)
  • Durham County Department of Public Health (Durham)
  • EFNEP (various locations)
  • Gaston County Health Department (Gaston)
  • Granville County Extension (Granville)
  • Halifax County Health Department (Halifax)
  • Nutrition & Physical Activity Partners (Pitt)
  • Person County Extension (Person)
  • Pitt County Health Department (Pitt)
  • Swain County Health Department (Swain)
  • Wake County Human Services (Wake)
  • Western NC YMCA (Buncombe)

Cooking Matters at the Store WIC Partners:

  • Carteret County Health Department (Carteret)
  • Craven County Health Department (Craven)
  • Jackson County Department of Public Health (Jackson)

Please contact Jill Brown ( if you are interested in becoming a Satellite Partner organization.

Find Satellite Partner Resources here.

Free Educational Tool Kits

Looking for other ways to share your love of healthy food? Check out Share Our Strength’s free Educational Tool Kits  for public use that build on the proven success of  Cooking Matters classes and Cooking Matters at the Store grocery tours.

Mobile Farmers Market Cooking Demonstrations samples Wake Forest MM& Food Tastings

Our Mobile Markets bring  nutritious food, including fresh produce, into low income neighborhoods in over 40 locations. As IFFS works to increase access to fresh and local produce in low-income communities, our Nutrition Educators ensure that people have the knowledge and skills to utilize it.   Participants are introduced to less common veggies and they learn to select, prepare, and store fresh produce. Nutrition Interns engage participants with nutrition activities, cooking demonstrations, and monthly health challenges.  The recipes used at Mobile Markets are simple, nutritious, low-cost, and feature produce available at the market. Learn more.

Mobile Tastiness Machine

Jennifer and MTM fruit game

IFFS’s Mobile Tastiness Machine is our very own food truck, serving FREE nutritious meals prepared by our culinary staff to kids during out-of-school times, such as summer break and after school. The Mobile Tastiness Machine rolls into low-income neighborhoods, much like the  ice cream trucks of days past, to serve balanced meals and provide physical activities and games. Nutrition education goals are to:

  • Increase  fiber
  • Decrease  sugar
  • Increase a variety of fruit, vegetables and protein
  • Increase physical activity

How to get involved:

Volunteers are needed for nutrition and culinary instructors, classroom assistants, and grocery store tour facilitators. Backgrounds in culinary arts, nutrition, or education are highly encouraged, but not required for all positions. Translators and Spanish-speaking volunteers needed for ALL positions. Email to get started!


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