TRAVERSE CITY — It's parents' turn to head to school for a lesson in healthy and affordable cooking.
Traverse City Area Public Schools' "Cooking Matters" classes kick off today at Central Grade School. The six-week program is free for parents and funded through a Michigan Fitness Foundation grant.
Patti Tibaldi, TCAPS' grant coordinator, said the district's Cooking Matters courses are targeted at schools where more than 50 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches. Tibaldi said it's important to make sure those students eat well.
"And we know it's got to start at home," Tibaldi said.
TCAPS is offering the class along with the Michigan State Extension Office. The program's lessons range from how to properly use a knife, to saving money by purchasing whole chickens instead of just chicken breasts. They're all intended to teach parents about cooking nutritious and affordable meals.
"(Parents) also get to take home groceries with the recipes we are making in class so they can make them at home," said Michelle Smith an Extension Office program instructor who will help teach the course.
The two-hour class starts at 6 p.m. Half of each session will focus on cooking in Central's cafeteria, while the other half will focus on nutrition.
Smith said one nutrition lesson called "blubber burger" illustrates just how unhealthy some foods can be. Participants research the amount of fat in their favorite fast food meal, measure out an equal amount of shortening and smear the shortening between two buns like a hamburger.
"It is pretty eye-opening, I have to say," Smith said.
The Central Cooking Matters class is full, but parents can sign up for a waiting list on the school's website. TCAPS plans to hold other courses for parents at Traverse Heights, Blair and Interlochen Elementary schools later this year.