Share Our Strength’s Conference of Leaders brought together 600 community leaders, CEOs, top chefs and restaurateurs, elected officials and other anti-hunger organizers under one roof to celebrate the work of many volunteers and to motivate and inspire our community to continue to work so that no child in America grows up hungry
During the Conference, Massachusetts was proud to see two of our volunteers inducted into an elite group of culinary and nutrition experts in the Cooking Matters Hall of Fame, honoring those who have devoted more than 180 hours of their time to teach at least 15 six-week cooking courses. Those two volunteers, Phyll Ribakoff and Rachel McCarthy, have taught 20 and 18 courses respectively.
After celebrating our fabulous volunteers, the Conference weekend culminated in a day of advocacy on Capitol Hill. More than 70 people, including chefs, state partners, and two Cooking Matters volunteers—Steve Dunn and Karen McCarthy—spent the day at Capitol Hill speaking with their state representatives about the importance of SNAP in our work to end childhood hunger.
Karen and Steve spoke with Massachusetts representatives about the economic impact of hunger, the importance of nutrition education, and how hunger affects communities and families. They shared their personal experiences with Cooking Matters and spoke directly with Representative Bill Keating, as well as the staff of Senator-elect Ed Markey, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and interim Senator William Cowan. As a result, these congressmen and women were able to experience the passion each of our volunteers feel about protecting SNAP and the important work Cooking Matters does every day.
“Volunteering with Cooking Matters is an opportunity to be an agent of change; my involvement with Cooking Matters helps participants make easy, healthy changes to their family’s eating plans, and I also have the chance to motivate others to volunteer their time and talent in at-risk communities,” Ribakoff said. “It is gratifying to experience the excitement and engagement from the participants. In 20 classes, I have learned as much from my Cooking Matters students as they have learned from me.”
“At the end of the day, if I can make a difference for just one family, I have done my job,” McCarthy said. “I have enjoyed cooking since I was a little girl. Getting the opportunity to share that love with others is a true gift for me and the people I am helping. It’s amazing what these participants learn and how much they grow after each class. To know they are going home to put the skills I taught them to use and provide a healthier meal for their families is truly special.”
Want to tell Congress to protect SNAP without going all the way to the Hill? Call or email your congressmen and women – see how to here.