"I meet Rosa two years ago at Alamosa Elementary School where she participated in my Cooking Matters class. Her story is very unique.
Rosa is originally from Nayarit, Mexico but is now living in the San Luis Valley. When I met her I was very surprised by her interest in food. She is a very talented cook, and I remembered that she shared a truly wonderful recipe that she prepared for everyone in the class. Her recipe was for empanaditas de piña or “pineapple hotpockets,” which led us into a discussion about how important it is to make our favorite recipes in a healthy way. This experience stands out in my mind because it is an excellent example of fusing culture with healthy habits.
Now, I am currently doing a class at Children’s Garden. And by pure coincidence, I ran into Rosa. She is the main chef at this local childcare provider. She has been working at the school for five years now. When she started she didn’t know how to cook. Instead, she was a teacher’s assistant and she spent most of her time cleaning up after the children. However, her interest was always in learning how to cook. She learned how to make a basic salad and now she knows the school’s whole menu! I was so happy to see her and when we talked I asked her about the impact that Cooking Matters had in her life.
She said that the program had a particularly large effect on her personal life. “Now I can provide my own children with healthy food and with Cooking Matters I was able to learn how to cook a variety of foods without so much fat.”“Porque puedo nutrir a mis hijos bien, y pude aprender la variedad de comidas y sobre todo las grasas.”
I asked her why she chose to share the empanada recipe and she said, “It’s beautiful (to share) and I think it’s important to learn from other people.”“Es bonito y es importante porque aprendemos de las demás personas.”
Finally, she commented on how much she really cares about the children that are in her facility. “I want them to be able to grow up strong and healthy knowing how to use their intelligence. I provide them with a variety of food—milk, fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, and fish—so that they can have more energy."
Rosa also mentioned the importance of doing the same for her own children. “Taking the Cooking Matters class was very important because I wanted to eat healthy food and be like my children want me to be. One of my sons, who does a lot of exercise said, ‘Take care of yourself as if you were sick and eat healthy food so that you can live longer.’”
“Fue muy importante hacer la clase de Cooking Matters porque quería comer sano, como me dijo también un hijo que tengo que hace ejercicio. Mamá cuídate como si estuvieras enferma y come sano para que vivas más."
After running into Rosa I had a chance to talk with the co-ex-Director of Children’s Garden in Alamosa, Evelyn. She also happens to be taking my Cooking Matters’ course right now. She said, “So many of our teachers and families are low-income, and helping them with budgeting and nutrition is something that can help them.” She concluded by pointing out that families that live paycheck to paycheck are gaining a lot of insight from the Cooking Matters' program because it helps them access nutritious food at a lower cost. For this reason, she is very happy that the parents and her staff are having the opportunity to take a Cooking Matters' course."