BY GABE LICHT
MONTROSE, MN How can I eat healthier?
I’d like to learn new cooking techniques.
I’m interested in learning meal ideas for my family.
Can we get some diabetes-friendly recipes?
These are the types of things 11 people said they wanted to learn from Montrose Cooks, a six-week series teaching how to use a slow cooker to prepare healthy meals.
Grace Place in Montrose is hosting the series, which began June 5.
The series was about a year in the making. In May of 2016, the Crow River Food Council was the first group to meet at Grace Place, where the members talked about food insecurity.
“We started a focus group about food access initiatives,” said food council member Andrew Doherty, a Wright County Extension SNAP-Ed educator who is teaching the class. “We talked about what people need in terms of preparing good food. One thing we learned is some people in this area were lacking basic kitchen and cooking utensils and education to be able to prepare some of these foods, so we thought slow cookers would be a good way to go about doing that and have some training with those.”
The Rev. Kimberly Buffie, of Grace Place, said teaching people how to cook with crock-pots is especially helpful for those who don’t have stoves.
She is excited about hosting the cooking classes.
“We don’t only want to feed people,” Buffie said. “We want to educate people and empower them to be responsible for their health and well-being.”
An Allina Neighborhood Health Connection grant made the series possible.
Initially, the Crow River Food Council had applied for a $6,000 grant.
“A woman called me and said, ‘We love your grant idea, but we want to change one thing. Instead of $6,000, we want to make it $10,000. Could you run this more than once?’” Buffie said. “We’ll run this class four times.”
Each class of up to 15 participants will receive free crock-pots and the supplies needed for each meal they learn to cook during each session.
It’s a hands-on class during which Doherty and a professional chef show participants how to make the recipe developed by Mary Jane Miller, and then allow them to give it a try.
Safety and nutrition tips are part of the course.
After they learn how to prepare the meal, they get to eat it as a group.
“I’ve already done some of the cooking so they can eat together, so it’s also community-building with the meal at the end,” Buffie said.
She said the series went a step beyond the For Each and Every Day food distribution. It was at FE+ED that participants signed up for the class.
Buffie is now looking for more participants for the upcoming classes. Interested individuals can contact her at (612) 532-3654.
Sue Eull, of the food council, is encouraged by the early success of Montrose Cooks.
“It’s fun to see it all come together,” Eull said. “It’s inspiring.”