NACOGDOCHES, Texas — The Stephen F. Austin State University School of Human Sciences’ six-week community nutrition program, Cooking Matters, completed its eighth year at a Nacogdoches food pantry’s new resource center earlier this month.
Partnering with the East Texas Food Bank and Nacogdoches HOPE Food Pantry, students in SFA’s community nutrition course provided nutrition education and basic cooking lessons to participants in the community from Oct. 2 through Nov. 6.
“My community nutrition students provided the hands-on learning experience through nutrition education, grocery store tours and cooking classes,” said Justin Pelham, SFA food, nutrition and dietetics clinical instructor. “It’s great watching students step out of their comfort zones and learn to work with a diverse population in the community. Students find this experience enlightening, engaging and practical working with local community members who might have limited nutritional resources in their daily lives.”
This was the first year the course was taught at the new HOPE Resource Center, which officially opened in March 2023.
“This new facility has allowed our students to better meet our participants’ needs,” Pelham said. “We plan to continue our partnerships thanks to our strong relationship with Kinsey Thompson, nutrition education manager at the East Texas Food Bank, and Dr. Sharon Ninness, HOPE Resource Center liaison, who have been excellent assets during this initial year of the center. We look forward to future events taking place at the facility.”
The goal of Cooking Matters is for SFA students in the James I. Perkins College of Education to receive real-world experience by teaching people healthy eating habits and budgeting. Each class has a nutrition education component followed by a cooking segment. To complete the program, participants must have attended four out of the six classes. This year, 13 community members completed the program, celebrating with nutrition jeopardy, a potluck and a graduation ceremony.
Each Cooking Matters class allowed for up to 20 participants. At the conclusion of each lesson, participants received a free bag of groceries to replicate meals at home with their family and friends. The majority of students in the course are dietetics and nutritional sciences majors or food and nutrition majors.
For more information on SFA’s food and nutrition program and dietetics and nutritional sciences program, visit the School of Human Sciences website.
ABOUT STEPHEN F. AUSTIN STATE UNIVERSITY
Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website.