Cooking Matters recently participated in the Annual Summit for Teen Empowerment and Parenting Success (STEPS). The summit, organized by the Center for Community Health and Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, provides a safe and empowering forum for young parents to learn together and access resources to help them accomplish their goals.
During STEPS, a group of young women served as “young parent ambassadors” for the program. In addition to being parents, students, and workers in the community, these women helped to organize the event, select the speakers, and co-lead the various sessions to ensure that all presentations were offered with a young parent’s perspective. A young woman named Grace, whose son Christian was born when she was still in high school, got involved with STEPS because of the importance she places on social support. At the annual summit, Grace chose to help lead the featured Cooking Matters programming.
During the summit, Grace led her peers through a Cooking Matters at the Store (CMATS) tour, which - in the span of roughly one hour - covered a variety of tips, tricks, and ideas for purchasing nutritious food on a budget. Through facilitated dialogue, participants are encouraged to share their own thoughts and ideas about grocery shopping and eating healthy, while being informed on topics such as saving money through unit pricing and being thoughtful about how to eat from each food group.
After the tour, Grace commented on the lessons she learned about the various forms of produce, saying, “For me, frozen fruits and veggies are often a lot cheaper and I now feel better buying them knowing that they’re just as healthy.” She also learned a lot about packaging, marketing, and reading nutrition labels to help identify whole grains and product options with lower sodium and sugar content.