-host a FAITHFUL

FAMILIES COOKING CLASS-

gifts for participants, including cookbooks, a cutting board, a strainer, and a drawstring backpack

A sample of the supplies people receive for participating in Faithful Families. The goodie bag includes cookbooks, a cutting board, a strainer, and a drawstring backpack from the Cooperative Extension.

Faithful Families at St. Matthew’s AME Zion Church

Maxton, NC – Robeson County

On a rainy Thursday morning, dozens of people gathered in the Fellowship Hall of St. Matthew’s Metropolitan AME Zion Church for a talk on Quick & Easy Home Cooked Meals. This group was part of a 6-week program to learn how to add healthy eating and physical activity into daily life. Francine McLaurin, the church’s Health Coordinator, led each class using the free curriculum from Faithful Families. To teach this program, Francine attended a six-hour training at the local Health Department, then shadowed two Health Educators as they taught the entire 9-week program at another location.

After completing the training, Francine received a complete manual along with PowerPoints and handouts for each session. For their first series, St. Matthew’s chose to use six of the nine sessions once a week, each lasting one hour. Francine advertised the program through the newspaper, word-of-mouth, and partner organizations.

To keep people coming back each week, Francine sent a “healthy tip” email before each class. As an incentive, everyone who attended class at least four of the six weeks received a goodie bag that included a healthy cookbook and cooking utensils, such as a cutting board and strainer.

Attendees learned about meal planning, reading nutrition labels, cooking at home, making smart drink choices, and moving more. The lessons are easy to follow, and many participants agreed to use what they learned to improve their eating and exercise habits.

Here are the steps to take to implement Faithful Families in your own congregation:

  • Connect with Your Cooperative Extension Office: Most counties have Family & Consumer Science (FCS) Agents who are qualified to lead this program and/or train community members. If your county does not have an FCS Agent, they can connect you with someone who can lead this program.
     

  • Get a Space: Look for local churches, community centers, or schools willing to host the classes. You will need access to a kitchen to prepare the food for each class.
     

  • Find Funding: You will need funding for the food you are cooking during class, and you might want to provide small cooking equipment as incentives for attending the program.
     

  • Advertise: Spread the word about your class through social media, the newspaper, and other community groups.

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