A huge congratulations to Edgar Lopez, Cooking Matters’ newest volunteer of the month!
Edgar’s introduction to Cooking Matters
Edgar works at Sea Mar Community Health Centers in South Park and currently coordinates six-week Cooking Matters courses with Sea Mar patients. Edgar has had connections with the Cooking Matters program since he supported his mother by joining a class with her in 2009. When reflecting on his experience of being introduced to the Cooking Matters curriculum, he could easily identify hints of the impact it has had on his mother’s practice of kitchen safety and nutrition.
“She actually learned so much that she still says ‘Oh, I need to put the chicken inside the refrigerator because it’s getting into the danger zone [a temperature at which potentially harmful bacteria can grow on food].’”
Since then, Edgar has been able to incorporate connections from this program into his passion for spreading health information to as many communities as he can, constantly aiming to expand his reach.
Implementing visible change throughout the Cooking Matters course
Edgar has been able to volunteer at many of the Cooking Matters classes at Sea Mar. Due to this connection, Edgar is able to see the impact these nutrition and cooking classes can have on participants over the course of a longer period of time than most volunteers. This is especially observable in participants who are at potential medical risk for a chronic disease. Edgar provides an example of one of his most recent Cooking Matters for Adults with Diabetes classes. Edgar was able to see the long-term impact through monitoring the medical records of the participants.
“They were so engaged and most of them were pre-diabetic — some were post-diabetic — and all of them, completely, [had] lab results that came back to normal sugar levels [by the end of the course]. That was a big success for me. So, they [the pre-diabetic participants] were not pre-diabetic anymore.”
Having had the opportunity to witness the impact of Cooking Matters professionally and in his personal relationships, Edgar is also excited to see all the ways Cooking Matters can be incorporated into his daily work with patients facing various medical conditions.
Edgar’s advice: “Volunteer from the heart first”
When asked what advice he has for other volunteers, Edgar leads with a message that it is important to have the right intent when taking on your role. He mentions how easily participants can detect it if you are not happy in your role or if you are only participating to receive credit/hours.
“I think, volunteer from the heart first and then everything will be easy. Regardless of if you’re cleaning dishes or cooking, even if you don’t have a bigger role as a facilitator.”
Thank you, Edgar, for modeling the way and volunteering from your heart for Cooking Matters! Check out this video clip where Edgar speaks to us about Cooking Matters, food justice, and how this work impacts his community.