Old-Ways-of-cooking-find-new-learners-in-9th-Ward

Old Ways of cooking find new learners in 9th Ward

By connecting with the old African traditions of cooking with fresh foods, leafy greens, and flavorful spices and herbs, healthy habits can emerge. A series of cooking classes held in New Orleans’ Upper and Lower 9th Ward neighborhoods focused on those traditions.

The classes, called A Taste of African Heritage Cooking Classes, is one of several traditional cooking programs created by national nonprofit Old Ways. A Taste of African Heritage “blends nutrition and cultural history with simple, delicious cooking techniques, to inspire a whole new way of eating” and better health.

The Tulane Prevention Research Center (PRC) partnered with five churches and local businesses to host the classes and recruit participants to attend the six class series in August and September. Tulane PRC Community Health Workers Carolina Gallop and Irene Williams set up sessions at All Souls Episcopal Church, Caffin Avenue International Seventh-day Adventist Church, Castillo Blanco Art Studios, Galvez Goodies, and Law Street Baptist Church. More than 40 people attended the classes.

“It’s all about the health. Food is your fuel and food is your energy,” said Mingko Aba, a 9th Ward resident with hypoglycemia who came to the classes to expand his existing knowledge of healthy eating. “There’s no ending what you can learn from other people.”

Noella Jefferson, a cooking class instructor at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, said she joined the program because she saw important connections between cooking, family, and health in her own life, and she wanted to help people find practical cooking skills.

“My mother cooked with these same ingredients. Now, I appreciate the value of it and see it’s part of my heritage,” said Jefferson, a retired nursing instructor for 15 years. “Coming from health [profession], we all can do more.”

Holding these classes is a key component of the Tulane PRC’s community-based Movin’ for LIFE program. Launched in 2014 with input from community members, the goal of Movin’ for LIFE is to develop a model of healthy living for residents of the 9th Ward community, such as eating healthy and being more physically active, and promoting neighborhood organizations, resources and activities.

The Old Ways classes were a popular resource among many who participated. Residents and community leaders are interested in continuing the classes and want to spread them to new locations, said Catherine Haywood, Community Program Manager at the Tulane PRC. The experience of coordinating food, equipment, instructors and attendees is valuable.

“This is the first time we’ve done this,” Haywood said. “When we do the cooking classes again, we can use what we learned this first time.”

By Naomi Englar, Tulane PRC Staff

(Tulane PRC Staff Photo: Residents and instructors participate in cooking classes at Caffin Avenue International Seventh-day Adventist Church, Law Street Baptist Church, Castillo Blanco, and All Souls Episcopal Church.)

Topics:   nutrition , diet , obesity , health communication , food environment , agriculture , food marketing , community health ,

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