Feds Spend $150,000 to Teach Rural Mainers How to Cook

‘Culturally and socially sensitive’ lessons to fight obesity

AP

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is spending $150,000 to teach rural residents of Maine how to cook.

A grant to the University of Maine will provide for cooking and nutrition classes to low-income residents to "dispel the myth that healthy food tastes boring."

The project claims that nearly two-thirds of adults in Maine are obese, and 200,000 residents simultaneously "don't have enough to eat." The obesity figure cited in the grant is much higher than Maine’s 28.9 percent rate, according to the State of Obesity.

"When food becomes scarce in households, individuals and families turn to emergency food distribution sites in their communities, and also tend to purchase lower cost, less nutritious foods at local stores," the grant said. "To address the need to improve knowledge and skills regarding food self-sufficiency and nutrition, we will implement the Eat Well Volunteer program in three rural Maine counties."

"Trained volunteers will provide hands-on cooking demonstrations and basic nutrition lessons at sites where the fresh produce is distributed," the grant continued. "Participants will gain knowledge and skills that make preparation of healthy meals with fresh produce easier."

The project seeks to build the confidence of "rural Mainers" so they can cook healthy meals well, and influence them to "make healthier food selection decisions" at the grocery store.

"Participants will be exposed to new food tastes that dispel the myth that healthy food tastes boring and will choose to prepare more fruits and vegetables," the grant said. "The effectiveness of the program delivery model will be measured by the knowledge, behavior and confidence change of both the trained volunteers and program participants."

The project began last fall, and will continue through August 2016.

The cooking lessons will also be "culturally and socially sensitive."