The Glades Initiative Offers First Cooking Matters Class
empowering families at risk of hunger with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to make healthy and affordable meals. 

Glades Initiative's first Cooking Matters Nutrition Education Course was held on March 5, 2014 at the Pahokee Recreation Center for Spanish speaking clients of the Bridges of Pahokee.  Bilingual instructors, Jose Rodriguez (Culinary) of Royal Palm Beach and Cecilia Kostadinov (Nutrition) of Port St. Lucie are volunteering their time to teach the six week program.  The Belle Glade Girl Scouts also assisted in class preparation and implementation.

Culinary Instructor, Jose Rodriguez and class participants
Nutrition Instructor, Cecilia Kostadinov, explains the MyPlate guide for making smart food choices

Belle Glade Girl Scout, Angel Guerra and Troop Leader, Valentina Guerr



Cooking Matters is a groundbreaking nutrition-education program that follows a national model with research based best practices from Share Our Strength.  With six specialized curricula offered in both English and Spanish, the free course includes hands-on meal preparation where participants learn cooking healthy food is simple, enjoyable, delicious, and affordable.  


The course covers basic nutrition, food safety, knife skills, reading ingredient labels, and food budgeting - making a healthy meal for a family of four on a $10 budget.  One of the classes includes a tour of the local grocery store, which always proves to be an eye opening experience for participants.  During the store tour, participants learn to read food labels, compare prices, find whole grain foods, and gain other tips on shopping smart.  Through the Cooking Matters program, the Glades Initiative is improving access to affordable food, family shopping/food budgeting skills, eating habits, and promoting healthy living habits for Glades residents.  


FLIPANY, Inc. (Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth) has been identified by Share Our Strength to implement their Cooking Matters program throughout Florida as part of their No Kid Hungry campaign.  The Glades Initiative serves as a satellite site of FLIPANY to offer the program in the Glades.


The Glades Initiative will implement several Cooking Matters classes in the Glades communities this year.  Currently, they have 22 volunteers for the program to include culinary instructors, nutrition instructors, and many class assistants.  In spite of the large number of volunteers, the program is in need of volunteers with specific skills to include culinary and/or nutrition expertise, and volunteers that live in the Glades and are bilingual in Spanish and Haitian-Creole. A volunteer or two with all of the above skills would be ideal for the program.

Sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha pictured with Mary Orsenigo, Cooking Matters Advocate.


 Many of our volunteers come from The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.  The Glades Initiative is excited to  partner with the sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha as they  commit to their sorority initiatives of general health and  wellness addressing  heart disease, kidney disease and  diabetes, and global poverty by volunteering as Course  Instructors and Class Assistants for the program.


 The Glades Initiative began it's second Cooking  Matters course on March 11 to clients of the Arc of the  Glades.  


  "We are excited to begin our Cooking Matters courses,"      says Karis Engle, Glades Initiative's President/CEO.      "Preparing healthy and affordable meals at home is an important step in improving our overall health." 


  About the Glades Initiative, Inc.


A nonprofit, charitable, 501 (c) 3 serving the Glades since 2001.  All The Glades Initiative, Inc. services revolve around increasing access to health and human services by removing the barriers that both residents and providers encounter within the system of care.  We do this through increasing communication, collaboration, and connection to services. The mission of the Glades  Initiative, Inc. is the increase the coordination and effectiveness of the health and human service delivery system in the Glades.

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141 SE Avenue C, Belle Glade, FL 33430  561-996-3310