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Cooking Matters Quarterly

November 2018 Edition

Welcome to our November quarterly newsletter!

Here you'll find in-depth news from Cooking Matters and southeastern Michigan's anti-hunger community, as well as information about urgent and upcoming courses.

Have something to feature? Let us know!


  • URGENT Volunteers Needed

  • Current Courses

  • Refer-a-Friend Campaign - Give the Gift of Volunteering!

  • Benefits of Volunteering

  • Cooking Matters New AmeriCorps Members

  • Volunteer Spotlight:  Esther Weddell

  • New Curricula Changes for Cooking Matters 

  • Volunteer Advisory Committee - Open Meeting

  • Volunteer Appreciation Event - Recap
  • Holiday Recipe Makeover

Urgent Volunteers Needed

We need multiple positions filled for the following classes:
Cooking Matters for Kids
Academy of Warren
13943 East Eight Mile Rd.
Warren, MI 48089

11/7/2018 – 12/19/2018

3:25 p.m. – 5:25 p.m.
*Skip 11/21*
Need:  Culinary Instructor and Nutrition Instructor
Cooking Matters for Teens
Wayne State University C2 Pipeline
Michigan Collegiate High School
31300 Ryan Rd.
Warren, MI 48092

10/29/2018 – 12/3/2018
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Need:  Culinary Instructor and Class Assistant

Cooking Matters for Adults
Detroit Rescue Mission
Genesis House III
2015 Webb
Detroit, MI 48206

10/31/2018 - 11/16/2018 
Wednesdays and Fridays
9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Need: Nutrition Instructor and Class Assistant
Sign Up for an Urgent Course

Current Courses

We're offering Cooking Matters all over the region! Find a course that works for you and sign up on our website, or by emailing Marci Fitch.
Sign Up for a Course

Refer-a-Friend Campaign
Give the Gift of Volunteering!

We are kicking off our “Refer-a-Friend” Campaign and hope you can help us spread the word about our Cooking Matters Program by referring your friends to volunteer!  Give the gift of volunteering during this holiday season!  Every new volunteer helps us to reach more children, families and individuals who are struggling with food insecurity.   You know first-hand how amazing the Cooking Matters program is, so please help share your story!  

How it works:   Just e-mail your friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members and tell them about the Cooking Matters Program.    We have made it easy and put together a sample e-mail template below that you can use or you can write your own!  

Refer-a-Friend - Sample E-mail Template
Dear friends and family,

I’m writing to share a wonderful opportunity with you.  For the past {amount of time}, I’ve been volunteering with the Cooking Matter Program through Gleaners Community Food Bank.  Cooking Matters® is a national groundbreaking nutrition-education program that connects low income families with food by teaching them how to prepare nutritious and delicious meals on a limited budget. Each class is built around a hands-on cooking lesson designed to teach the basics of healthy eating, nutrition, cooking, food safety, and food budgeting. 
Here’s how it works:   The classes run in a 6-week series and meets for 2 hours per week on the same day.  I volunteer as the {your position} and follow a standardized and easy to use lesson plan which guides me and the participants through the class.  There are other volunteer positions available as well and I’ve listed all the position descriptions below.   The program has seen amazing results in changing people’s behavior’s to shop for and cook healthier meals on a budget!  
Culinary Instructors teach adults, kids, and teens how to cook healthy, low-cost foods using lesson plans and recipes provided in the Cooking Matters curricula.   *Culinary instructors are usually either graduates of or enrolled in a two-year culinary training program, or have at least two years’ experience working as a cook or chef.
Nutrition Instructors teach adults, kids, and teens how to engage critical thinking to make healthy food choices using the lesson plans provided in the Cooking Matters curricula.  *Nutrition instructors are usually either graduates of or enrolled in a dietetics/nutrition program, or have at least two years’ experience working in nutrition or dietetics.
Class Assistants help instructors and facilitators with classroom setup, food preparation, food shopping, class activities, and cleanup.   No experience needed. 

To learn more about the Cooking Matters Program and volunteer, you can contact the Volunteer Supervisor, Marci Fitch at or visit the Cooking Matters website at  
If you are looking for a meaningful way to get involved this holiday season and make a difference, I hope you will consider volunteering for this amazing program.  

Hope to see you at class!

The Benefits of Volunteering

Did you know there are many benefits from volunteering? came out with the Benefits of Volunteering: 4 Ways to Feel Healthier and Happier and we wanted to share those key benefits with you.

  • Volunteering can connect you to others by helping you to make new friends, and contacts. Allowing you to increase your social skills by networking within your community.
  • Volunteering can benefit your mental health. Many studies have been done to prove that volunteering can help decrease levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. All while increasing your confidence, uplifting your mood, and providing people with a sense of purpose.
  • Volunteering can benefit your physical health. It has been found that those who keep themselves busy with volunteering are more active than those who do not.
  • Volunteering can advance your career. Being a volunteer allows you to explore possible new career paths and network within them, all without the commitment of changing your path right away.
  • Volunteering can bring fun and fulfillment to your life. You will be able to explore new interests and passions making your life seem renewed and an escape from the day to day work.

We are very lucky to have a wonderful group of volunteers supporting our Cooking Matters program. If you feel that volunteering with us has impacted your life in a significant way please let us know. We would love to hear your stories!

New AmeriCorps Members

Renee Metcalf
Hello! My name is Renee Metcalf and I am one of the new AmeriCorps members working with Cooking Matters this year. I graduated in May with a degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Wayne State University. Following that, I worked with Gleaners and their Summer Food Service programs such as Meet Up to Eat Up. I have always had a special interest in helping people gain access to healthy food, so when I found out about the AmeriCorps opening I applied right away! So far I have loved working with Cooking Matters and learning more about the community we are reaching. I love the hands on approach to nutrition and cooking demonstrations within the community and hearing about the way they impact our participants. I look forward to sharing classes with you!

Genevieve Schmidt

Hi there! My name is Genevieve Schmidt, and I am an AmeriCorps member with Cooking Matters at Gleaners Community Food Bank. I recently graduated from Oakland University with my B.S. in biology and a B.A. in philosophy. I started volunteering with Gleaners back in 2013 with their Fresh Food Share program, and I just really enjoyed it. I met a lot of really great people that resulted in me actually working with Gleaners since 2015! When you’re looking to get involved and volunteer, you’re told to look at things that matter to you and are important to you, and when I thought about it in 2013, I thought about food. Since then, my passion for food justice has taken off as I’ve learned more about our food system here in America and the gaps that exist within the system. Cooking Matters allows me to have a more hands on approach to making a difference, and because of that I appreciate the opportunity so much! When I’m not at my desk, I like to walk my dog (Linus), knit, run, and try new recipes!

Volunteer Spotlight: Esther Weddell

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Detroit and spent my childhood in Taylor and Dearborn.  My husband and I spent a few years living in Chicago and west Michigan before we returned “home” to metro Detroit.  By education, I’m a high-school math teacher but I spent most of my working career in pension administration.  I’m not currently working, so I have lots of time for yoga, walking with my dog, reading and laughing at myself in tap dancing class.

When did you first become interested in nutrition?
When I was growing up we kept a big garden at my Italian grandparents’ home. In the summer we would cook and eat what came out of the garden; tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, green beans, peppers, lettuce, cantaloupe, eggplant…  In winter we would eat the canned and frozen produce from that garden.  My grandmother, “Nonna,” taught me to cook using lots of fresh vegetables, legumes, and small amounts of meat.  She taught me to limit salt by using herbs, olive oil, garlic and vinegar for flavor.  She taught me to make bread with whole mixed grains.  She said don’t eat too much – but eat high quality food.  Except for holidays, desserts at Nonna’s house were fresh fruit, dried figs or small chocolates (gleaned from our Halloween bags, put in the freezer and meted out slowly to last all year).  Nonna could not read or write very well, but her common sense about nutrition has been verified by science over and over again.

What is your favorite thing about being a Cooking Matters volunteer? 
I like meeting the class participants and hearing about their favorite foods and food traditions.  I like sharing that cooking can be creative and fun.  I like meeting the other volunteers and Gleaner’s staff who are passionate about sharing their enthusiasm and knowledge.  My favorite part of class is when we eat together.

Do you have a favorite recipe that you'd like to share?
I like this recipe because it's an easy, inexpensive and nutritious meal.  It's for those days when I'm just not in the mood to cook.

Broccoli, Pasta and Cannellini Beans


6 ounces uncooked small whole wheat pasta
4 cups broccoli florets
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
shredded parmesan cheese to taste
In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add pasta; cook for 4 minutes. Add broccoli; cook 4-5 minutes longer or until pasta and broccoli are tender.  Drain pasta and broccoli; reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. In a large nonstick skillet, sauté garlic in oil for 1 minute. Add the pasta, broccoli and beans. If mixture is too dry add some of the reserved cooking liquid.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 2 minutes or heated through.  Sprinkle with pepper flakes and parmesan.
Cook’s Notes:  I typically reduce the cooking time for pasta to one minute less than the package recommends.  I don’t rinse and drain the beans for this recipe.  I like the creamy texture that the undrained cannellini beans add to this dish.  I do not salt the pasta cooking water to keep the sodium as low as possible. 
What lead you to Cooking Matters?
Many years ago, I read an on-line article that listed different volunteer opportunities. Cooking Matters immediately got my attention and I was pleased to find out that we had a local sponsor here in Southeast Michigan at Gleaners Community Food Bank.  I was already familiar with Gleaners through church and work-related volunteer projects.

Tell us about your family?
My husband, Michael, and I have been married for 36 years.  (Marrying him was the BEST decision I ever made).  We have two terrific adult daughters, two wonderful sons-in-law and one breath-taking grand-daughter.

Do you have any tips for saving money at the grocery store?
I always spend less at the grocery store if I plan my meals ahead of time and shop with a list.  I usually buy our fruits and vegetables at a produce market or farmer’s market, not the grocery store.
What does Cooking Matters mean to you?
Cooking is how I express my love to my family and friends.  Sharing a meal together is the highlight of my day.

Do you have a highlight from a Cooking Matters class that you'd like to share?
I get a special thrill when an especially shy kid drops his guard and participates for the first time.  This summer, in a class taught by TJ, all the kids were involved by the end.  That felt really good.
I also like packing the groceries for the adult classes.  I like being able to give them the ingredients to try the featured recipe or use in their own unique way.

What ingredients will we always find in your kitchen?
Olive oil and low-sodium soy sauce and eggs are staples in our kitchen. 
I use olive oil for vegetables, pasta dishes and salads.  When I was a kid, olive oil was for ear infections, skin abrasions and a skin moisturizer too.  

Soy sauce is for stir-fry.  I’m amazed how stir-fry can turn a bunch of wilted carrots, sweet potato, onions, celery, leftover meat, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, peppers, mushrooms, frozen peas, rice, noodles, egg or whatever you have into an appetizing meal.  If you have a handful of peanuts, cashews or sesame seeds to throw on top, all the better.
Eggs are for frittata.  Pretty much any leftover vegetable or pasta dish can be warmed up in a small skillet, finished with a beaten egg and sprinkled with parmesan for a filling and inexpensive lunch or quick dinner.

Any particular recommendation you have for other volunteers?
  1.  Use the mapping feature on the volunteer sign-up link.  It’s a great tool for finding classes close to your usual hang-outs.  This was a big time-saver for me when it was first introduced.
  2. Sign up early for classes that are doable.  Sometimes the volunteer needs that are most convenient for you disappear.  If you end up with a conflict for one class this can be worked around.  You will not regret fitting these few hours a week into your schedule.
  3. Show up and enjoy the experience. 

New Curriculum Changes

We have an updated curriculum for our Cooking Matters classes. If you are signed up for an upcoming class, please see below on ways to get an updated book. Please note that you will only receive a new book once you have signed up for a new class.
  • Your Class Coordinator can bring your book to class.
  • We can mail you a book for an upcoming class.
  • You can come pick up your book from Gleaners. 
If you are choosing to have your book mailed to you or are picking it up in person, please email Renee Metcalf at to confirm your address or schedule a time to come in for a pick up.

Volunteers are welcome to attend our upcoming Volunteer Advisory Committee meeting.  If you would like to attend and hear highlights of our accomplishments this past year and learn more about the Cooking Matters program, please RSVP to Marci Fitch -   

Volunteer Advisory Committee Meeting
Date:   Monday, November 5, 2018
Time:  6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location:  Gleaners Community Food Bank
                 2131 Beaufait 
                 Detroit, MI  48207
Volunteer Appreciation Event
October 2nd 2018
On October 2nd we hosted our Fall Volunteer Appreciation Event.  Thank you to all who attended and helped out with the event!   A special thanks to Jets Pizza, Buddy's Pizza, and Cornwall Bakery for donating pizza! 

Mary Gisslander made such a popular sorbet dessert that we will be featuring it in our next quarterly newsletter! 

You can see pictures of the event on our Facebook post at

Holiday Recipe Makeover

With the holiday’s approaching, sometimes it feels like healthy eating and shopping at the store on a budget just don’t mix.   Cooking Matters is trying to dispel that myth with our Cooking Matters classes and grocery store tours. 
Nutritious food and holiday celebrations can go hand-in-hand!   If you are looking for a healthy holiday cookie recipe, we have a great one for you – Peanut Butter Cookies with a healthy twist!
Peanut Butter Cookies 
By: David Moss
Roast a halved butternut squash for 2 hours at 375 degrees the night before baking.  No seasoning, just some cooking spray.
Scoop out the insides and refrigerate.
Combine the following in a bowl:
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup roasted butternut squash
1/4 cup softened butter
7/8 cup dark brown sugar
Cream until smooth.
Add in one egg and continue creaming until all mixed together.
In another bowl, mix dry ingredients:
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
Add 1/2 cup oats until just combined.
Drop teaspoon size dollops of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet and place in pre-heated 350 degree oven. Bake 13 minutes and remove to wire rack. Don’t over bake!
In this recipe, you get the distinct peanut butter flavor and plenty of sweetness from the dark brown sugar.  By replacing half the butter or margarine with cooked squash, you are trimming saturated and/or trans-fat while adding veggies.  Incorporating whole wheat flour adds a little denseness, and the nutty flavor pairs well with the peanut butter. The oatmeal adds protein, fiber and good taste too.
To view past volunteer newsletters, visit our website
This material was partially funded by the State of Michigan with federal funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by way of the Michigan Nutrition Network at the Michigan Fitness Foundation. This work is supported in part by the Michigan Department of Human Services, under contract number ADMIN-10-99011. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Michigan Fitness Foundation or the Michigan Department of Human Services. In accordance with Federal law and USDA policy, these institutions are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, political beliefs or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720- 6382 (TTY). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more contact the toll free Michigan Food Assistance Program Hotline at (855) ASK-MICH.

Copyright © 2018 Gleaners Community Food Bank, All rights reserved.

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2131 Beaufait St, Detroit, MI 48207

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Gleaners Community Food Bank · 2131 Beaufait St · Detroit, MI 48207-3410 · USA

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