Janna dePorter is an AmeriCorps/VISTA Member doing a year of service with Solid Ground’s Cooking Matters program, which provides classes on nutrition, healthy cooking and food budgeting for people at risk of hunger and malnutrition. This post is adapted from the Cooking Matters Seattle blog.
The sun is finally out to stay and I’m extremely happy. It’s finally summer! Things are beginning to slow down here at the office as summer classes come to an end and fall classes have yet to begin. We’ve had Cooking Matters classes all over the city and beyond. Claire Leamy, Cooking Matters Supervisor, has been doing a kids’ class down at Marra Farm using the fresh produce that has been grown there. Emily Gordon, Cooking Matters Program Coordinator, just did a kids’ class series in one week while they were in summer camp. I’ve been doing family and adult classes both north and south of the city.
By doing classes with people from all over the King County area, we are exposed to a variety of cultures, languages and religious practices. It’s wonderful to see how different people live and eat and to see the many ways that health can be achieved.
Ramadan began yesterday and has had an impact on our classes. Ramadan is the Islamic holiday that occurs during the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims fast from food and drink during daylight hours and break the fast each evening once the sun has gone down. You can imagine the impact that has had on some of our classes! The majority of our classes occur during daylight hours, so practicing Muslims are unable to eat during our classes.
This has made me reflect on how important it is to be aware of the different practices and beliefs that exist in the world. For instance, many members of one of my classes told me that they would be unable to attend class because of Ramadan. I assumed that if we packed up the food we made in class for them that they would be able to still attend. It never occurred to me that they would be spending hours preparing for Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast at sunset.
There is so much more to the month of Ramadan than the fast. There is a greater focus on prayer, charity and kindness to one another. The preparation of food for Iftar brings family together as members of the family make their contributions to the meal. As one girl in Claire’s class said, “We fast for a month to remember that there are poor people that don’t have enough to eat and that we are lucky to have enough.” What I missed about Ramadan was the greater implications it has on the participants beyond the food. So, happy Ramadan to all those celebrating and enjoy all of its aspects!