Our Program

How We’re Helping End Childhood Hunger

In 1993, two chefs raised their hands to do more. They taught Share Our Strength’s first cooking and nutrition class to a small group of families who were eager to learn how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on their very limited budgets.

Now, more than 18 years later, Cooking Matters is still empowering families at risk of hunger with the skills, knowledge and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals. With the help of volunteer culinary and nutrition experts, course participants learn how to select nutritious and low-cost ingredients and prepare them in ways that provide the best nourishment possible to their families. Cooking Matters is nationally sponsored by the ConAgra Foods® Foundation and Walmart.

Since 1993, Cooking Matters has grown to serve more than 17,000 families each year across the country, helping them learn how to eat better on a budget. Today, 86 percent of Cooking Matters participants graduate, taking with them improved nutrition practices, eating habits and food budgeting skills.

Our Audience

Cooking Matters serves a diverse audience of low-income families, who bring the richness of their backgrounds, cultures, languages and kitchen practices to Cooking Matters classes. Most are enrolled in food assistance programs including SNAP (food stamps) and free or reduced-price school meals.  Many also count on food pantries when other food sources run out.

Our Approach

Thousands of culinary and nutrition professionals turn their love of food into a powerful tool in the fight against hunger. They volunteer their time and expertise in leading hands-on courses and other educational outreach activities, such as guided supermarket tours, that show adults, teens and kids how to purchase and prepare nutritious foods in healthful, safe and tasty ways.

This knowledge makes a powerful difference: It allows a low-income mother to feed her family not just for one day . . . but for a lifetime.

Our Signature Courses

Share Our Strength provides seven specialized curricula that cover nutrition and healthy eating, food preparation, budgeting and shopping.  Cooking Matters’ culinary and nutrition volunteers teach these high-quality, cooking-based courses at a variety of community-based agencies—including Head Start centers, housing centers and after-school programs—with neighborhood locations that make it easy for families to attend.

  • Cooking Matters for Adults teaches low-income adults (primarily adults with children) how to prepare and shop sensibly for healthy meals on a limited budget. The program is often paired with Cooking Matters EXTRA for Parents of Preschoolers, an addendum focused specifically on adults with preschool-age children or Cooking Matters EXTRA for Diabetes, addenda offering specialized information for adults living with diabetes. Cooking Matters for Adults and Cooking Matters EXTRA for Parents of Preschoolers are available in both English and Spanish.
  • Cooking Matters for Kids engages kids ages 8 to 12 in learning about healthy eating and provides simple nutritious recipes that children can prepare themselves.
  • Cooking Matters for Families teaches school-age children (ages 6 to 12) and their parents about healthy eating as a family and the importance of working together to plan and prepare healthy meals on a budget.
  • Cooking Matters for Teens teaches teens how to make healthy food choices, meals and snacks for themselves, their families and friends.
  • Cooking Matters for Child Care Professionals teaches child care professionals about healthy meal preparation and creating a healthy food environment for the kids in their care.

Each Cooking Matters Signature Courses teach kids and parents important lessons about self-sufficiency in the kitchen. Participants practice fundamental lessons including knife skills, reading ingredient labels, cutting up a whole chicken, and making a healthy meal for a family of four on a $10 budget. Adults and teens take home a bag of groceries after each class so they can practice the recipes taught that day.