New-training-developed-for-Cooking-Matters-volunteer-nutrition-educators

New training developed for Cooking Matters volunteer nutrition educators

Classes that provide hands-on cooking skills and education about healthy eating on a budget to low-income families in the New Orleans area are moving to the next level, thanks to help from a Tulane public health graduate student.

Graduate student Kara Lubeck not only coordinated and led many Cooking Matters classes as an intern with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and Acadiana, she also developed a new volunteer training program for advanced nutrition educators and piloted the program this past fall.

Cooking Matters courses are held in partnership with Second Harvest and Share Our Strength, and since 2012, has helped more than 1,800 low-income families in communities across the state learn how to eat better for less.

Lubeck was placed at Second Harvest through the Tulane Prevention Research Center's Health Promotion Practicum Program, which matches students from the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine with select community organizations and public health entities for 300-hour internships.

To help the Cooking Matters program grow, Lubeck helped organize volunteers to lead classes and created a new advanced training program for the volunteers seeking to enhance their skills as nutrition educators. Toward the end of her internship, which lasted from June to December, she was able to pilot, or test, the new training to see how it would work and what could make it better.

"Improving the quality of training we give our volunteer educators is always a priority for Second Harvest. By creating innovative training tools and by being a Cooking Matters educator herself, Kara was able to make a significant impact on the way our nutrition education programs function," said Kate McDonald, Nutrition Education Specialist at Second Harvest who supervised Lubeck's internship.

Lubeck also helped coordinate the ongoing Cooking Matters courses, including preparing materials, shopping for groceries, and helping maintain positive relationships with the partner organizations and businesses hosting the classes in the community. She also conducted pre- and post-course evaluations, using the Cooking Matters methods and databases, and created reports to show the courses' impact.

"My time with Second Harvest taught me a number of things, but most importantly it taught me how to build upon and implement nutrition education programs in a real world setting," Lubeck said. "It’s one thing to learn about it in the classroom, but another thing completely to actually be a part of the process. I’m so happy I got to spend my practicum working alongside the nutrition education team in an effort to spread information about healthy eating and cooking to the community.”

By Naomi King Englar, Tulane PRC staff
December 2015

(Tulane PRC Staff Photo: Kara Lubeck presented a poster on her practicum internship at the Tulane Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences Department Poster Session in November 2015.)

Topics:   practicum , food environment , diet , nutrition , health communication

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