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Frontline/Cooking Matters to continue cooking classes at Bistro in Wadena

Photo provided by Donna Anderson Donna Anderson hands Naomi Van Batavia her graduation certificate at a recent cooking class.

With three cooking classes wrapped up and successfully served at the Harvest Time Bistro in Wadena, Donna Anderson and Derek Olson are looking ahead. Anderson is a University of Minnesota Extension Educator and Olson is the owner and chef at the Bistro. Under the heading of Operation Frontline which has recently changed to Cooking Matters Minnesota, the six-class series brings food shopping, storage, preparation and cooking skills to low-income families. Nearly 30 participants have graduated from the program and there are 15 on a waiting list for the next class scheduled to start in March.

Anderson and Olson work together to decide which recipes to use in the class. During the classes, Anderson covers food shopping and consumer basics while Olson handles the cooking demos and hands-on cooking.

"We're planning two six-week classes in the spring and two in the fall," said Anderson, noting the classes are free to Women Infants and Children (WIC) participants and families whose children attend Headstart. Childcare is provided and a stipend is available for mileage to and from the classes. "We'd also like to incorporate gardening into the program and involve some Master Gardeners."

Feedback from graduates indicate that the classes are making a difference.

"They're excited to still use recipes they learned in the class and to be using the shopping tips," said Anderson. "Some haven't tried new recipes but say their children are more receptive to vegetables and whole grains."