Maria, weeks away from welcoming the birth of her second daughter, was concerned with her ten-year-old daughter’s picky eating habits.
She came across a flier for a Cooking Matters for Families course while at her local Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) office and decided to sign up. Maria's daughter, Victoria, was adamant about joining her mother for the course as she wanted to help with the cooking when her new sister arrived. Thankfully, Cooking Matters for Families include both an adult and a child between the ages of 6 and 12, so Maria's daughter was welcome to join the class.“When I told her [Victoria], she immediately asked if she could come along.”
Each week, Maria and her daughter joined seven other moms at the WIC office where Cooking Matters was held. During their class time, they tasted barley for the first time, learned how to identify whole grains, and even made their own hummus. Every step of the way, Victoria was engaged with the class, asking questions and learning the importance of healthy eating. With each meal, Victoria fed off of the excitement of the other participants in the class and began to try new things. Maria watched with pride as her daughter’s palate began to expand, first through trying new foods and then by enjoying the foods she would never have touched prior to class. Maria began to see the value of involving Victoria in food decisions and meal preparation.
In week 5, during the grocery store tour, Maria gained extra support from her daughter because they are now able to plan the family shopping list together, which both saves time and also stretches food dollars. They also learned to look at unit pricing. “It opened up her [Victoria’s] eyes on how to plan meals and do it cheaply. It helped her understand the concept of budgeting.”
Maria learned that cooking healthy meals can be affordable and began to cook with Victoria. “Throughout the week, we talk about what we make and put together our shopping list. While at the store, Victoria will pick out the vegetables she wants to try while I wait in line at the deli. I’m no longer just the ‘bossy mom’ because she gets to be a part of deciding what we make, and she knows why eating healthy is important.”
A few hours before their final class, Maria went into labor. By then, Victoria was proud of the knowledge she had already learned and felt more prepared to set a good example for her sister. Even though they were unable to attend that final class, Maria believed that the timing of the class had been perfect. “It came when I needed it most. I learned how to make better decisions for my kids and involve them in those decisions [and], it got Victoria ready to be the helper I needed.”
Maria and her daughter’s new habits have already begun to impact the newest member of their family. “We pull Brooke up to the table as well, whether she is sleeping, playing or eating with us. I am so happy for this to become a tradition for her. Victoria and I both learned the importance of cooking and eating together as a family.”