Scott family members learn garden-to-table cooking

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
The 5210 Healthy Military Children program hosted a cooking class called "EFMP Garden to Table Cooking Class" Aug. 6 at the Airman and Family Readiness Center, where Operation Food Search provided Scott members, to include Exceptional Family Member Program families, with fresh ideas for healthier cooking.

The 5210 HMC program's goal is to help children to make gradual behavior changes such as reducing screen time, adding one hour of activity, and eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Over time, healthy choices help children increase physical activity, minimize distracted eating and develop a healthy relationship with food, said Darla Klausner, 375th Medical Group 5210 healthy military children health educator.

Taking health and wellness programs to the next level
Melissa Mobley, Operation Food Search cooking class instructor, came to Scott for the first time to teach the class, and she said she hopes it will be the first of many.
"We're looking for a way to connect to military families, because we think that our mission is applicable to their lifestyle as well. Healthy eating is for everyone, no matter where you are," said Mobley.

The Cooking Matters class allowed the families to see how easy it can be to add fresh vegetables into daily meals. The class went over different ingredients for quesadillas and salsas, and covered questions the participants had about cooking and gardening ideas and techniques.

Klausner said, "The 5210 Healthy Military Children Garden to Table program is designed to encourage our military community members to learn how to grow fresh fruits and vegetables and ultimately learn how to incorporate the produce into their daily meals. I enjoy cooking and like to experiment with vegetables to add volume to my family's meals. However, I have limited experience with tomatillos and enjoyed using them to make a delicious spicy tomatillo salsa."

In addition to the classes, Operation Food Search is also a food bank that covers counties in Illinois and Missouri and is based in University City, Missouri.

Mobley said, "Operation Food Search has a course called 'Cooking Matters', which is a six-week course, and the point is to build your skills week after week. The focus for us is on healthy cooking, but cooking in general leads to healthier meals. You're controlling how much fat, salt, and sugar goes into your food when you make it at home. It's also about budget, because you're controlling how much you're spending."

She also uses the example of having $10 for dinner and choosing whether to buy fast food over cooking at home. Much of the time, the home cooked meal can reach farther in terms of healthiness while still remaining within the budget, said Mobley.

5210 Healthy Military Children and EFMP partnered up in the spring to grow a garden, but due to excessive rain, the garden didn't yield a viable harvest. Klausner said it's in the works to prevent that occurring again.

"I am currently working on funding to build raised garden beds to help prevent flooding and plant loss during the 2016 growing season. The 5210 HMC Garden to Table program will continue to collaborate with the EFMP families and the Scott AFB Library Story Time children," said Klausner, "The garden will also include two Healthcare 2 Health (H2H) programs, the 5210 Healthy Military Children and the Group Lifestyle Balance class participants."

One of the goals with this future collaborative garden is to use the harvest for the next cooking class.

For more information on the 5210 Healthy Military Children program, please call 256-7085.