CALDWELL -- Every year, the Idaho Foodbank gives out millions of meals to hungry families in Idaho. But the need is great, and growing, with one in six Idahoans still food insecure. So, the Foodbank is trying to stop the cycle of hunger in Idaho with a program called "Cooking Matters."
There's an old saying, "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime."
The Idaho Foodbank apparently believes that. They give out a lot of proverbial fish (distributing more than 11 million pounds of food to hungry families last year). But now, they're teaching people to fish, or rather cook, in the Cooking Matters program.
"We want to show people how to stretch their dollars farther, so that they can get the right kinds of food," said Karen Vauk, president and CEO of the Idaho Foodbank. "But also understand the nutritional elements of what they're eating, what they're feeding their families, and for the children, what they're choosing to eat."
Over six sessions, kids and adults learn how to shop for healthy foods on a budget, how to cook nutritional meals and are given the ingredients to cook those meals after every class.
Sunday, youngsters like Angel Parker and her brother and sister graduated from the kids' Cooking Matters program.
"So, you won't go hungry if your mom is working a late shift, and your dad is too, you could cook your own meals," said Parker.
"Now, she has choices," said Lydia Reyna, whose granddaughter, Davina, also graduated. "Instead of going to McDonald's for chicken nuggets, I can make my own and they'll be healthy."
One of the most important lessons that Chef Davina learned is that healthy food can also be good-tasting food. A panel of taste-testers, including Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas, agreed that these kids have learned well.
"I thought stuff that was good for you wasn't supposed to taste good, and this is real good," Nancolas said, while dining on a fruit parfait, carrot fries, and baked chicken.
"It's learning how to break that cycle of hunger, learning how to use your dollars differently, so you can get more food and learning how to prepare the right food," said Vauk.
So far, just 90 people have completed the program. But Vauk said they are expanding the program across the state, so that number will shoot up.