Thanks to the fabulous Nora Downs for her recent contributions to Solid Ground’s nutrition education work!
Nora has been a Solid Ground volunteer for several years, first learning about our nutrition education efforts shortly before starting her undergraduate schooling. In the recent summer months (a period when our volunteer availability is at its lowest), the Cooking Matters team has asked for Nora’s additional help on several occasions, primarily to fill the Nutrition Instructor volunteer role for our 6-week courses. To our happy surprise, Nora accepted every single time we asked. We are extremely appreciative of Nora’s time with us, and that she has shared her nutrition expertise and teamwork skills with our other volunteers as well as our class participants.
Despite scheduling conflicts with school and work, Nora has continued to volunteer over the year, taking on roles that range from intern to coordinator. What Nora most appreciates is the experience of witnessing the participants learn.
“I really like the end of pretty much every class when it’s evident that people have learned, and they’re bringing it into the universe of things that they knew before, or things that they have just used over the course of the six weeks, and things that they really love.”
Nora stressed the importance of getting even more volunteers into this work. The more volunteers we have, the smoother our classes run. Having a full team for each class (Nutrition Instructor, Chef Instructor, and Class Assistant) allows the team to provide more focus on assuring that the participants are getting everything they can from the class.
Each class during our 6-week course focuses on a specific area of nutrition in regards to either MyPlate or what to look for on a nutrition label. For many of these classes, we work collectively on the activity.
Nora’s favorite activities were “the ones that are really visual and shocking. Most of the time it will usually take them [class participants] a few weeks to really get [the nutrition lessons], but those are the ones that they learn right away. I think I like them too because they usually get [all of us] involved and stand up.”
Among the specific activities she enjoyed:
- Sugar Overload. We line up a variety of sugary drinks and calculate the number of grams of sugar per container into teaspoons of sugar, then fill clear cups with the amount of teaspoons of sugar for each drink!
- Fast-Food Lineup. Participants guess how a series of food models from local fast-food locations line up in order of least-most amount of fat, using small bottles of shortening to indicate the amount of fat in each item.
- Blubber Burger. Using four separate burger options from local fast-food locations, we calculate the amount of fat in each burger bun. Once this is calculated, we visually demonstrate the results by placing the proper amount of teaspoons of shortening on a bun.
Favorite Cooking Matters recipe
Nora’s favorite class recipe is “the brown rice and orange salad. I love it because it’s my go-to potluck dish. And there’s a couple things people could be allergic to, but you can just put them on the side. It’s a good recipe.”