2022 – Central District All Faculty Symposium – Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS)
L. Johnson. UF/IFAS Extension, Lake County, Tavares, FL
SITUATION: With more meals consumed away from home, there is a decreased occurrence of balanced meals and adequate consumption of vegetables. Implementing community cooking programs that focus on vegetables increase cooking confidence and willingness to try produce (Overcash et al., 2017). The intent of this program was to showcase examples of healthy cooking methods used to prepare fresh produce and highlight the health benefits the produce offers. METHODS: The Family and Consumer Science Agent delivered one-hour weekly cooking classes at a local farm for 8 weeks during the fall season. Each week featured a different commodity or theme and included the health benefits, preparation techniques, and cooking methods. The weekly topics included corn, okra, black-eyed peas, fresh herbs, food preservation, heart health, and diabetic cooking. Each lesson included a cooking demonstration and sampling using fresh produce from the farm. RESULTS: Over 8 weeks, a total of 109 participants attended the program. Paper surveys were utilized for the evaluation method and were entered into Qualtrics. Surveys were collected from 83% (91) of the participants. Sixty-three percent (57) reported a knowledge gain in preparing fresh produce, 56% (51) in cooking methods used to prepare fresh produce and 64% (58) in health benefits of fresh produce. CONCLUSION: Family & Consumer Science agents pairing up with local farms provide the perfect setting to connect the consumer to a farm to table experience. The winning combination of location, educator experience, nutrition education, and the visual art of culinary, allows the community to immerse in a learning experience that is engaging, fun, and effective for learning. This increases cooking confidence and skills needed to successfully prepare and cook fresh vegetables, leading to improving the overall health of the community.