University of Minnesota

Rising to the Challenge

Rising to the Challenge 150 150 Ivy Marsnik

Could you feed four on just $10 and one in store coupon?  Sound like a piece of cake?  How about including at least one item from each of the five food groups with the same amount?

Welcome to the $10 grocery challenge!

Our first group of parents to participate in the challenge successfully accomplished just that last night with the help of Family Educator, Collette.  Collette is one of six Family Educators who will lead at least one grocery tour this month with the goal of increasing access to and awareness of healthy living.  “By starting with parent education, we’ll see a definite trickle-down effect.  Not only can those parents lead and inform others in their own families and in their communities, but their children pick up on those healthy habits as well.  We want our kids to be healthy.  When they don’t have healthy diets, they really aren’t ready for school,” Collette explains.

The grocery tours are not only a part of Way to Grow’s holistic approach, but are completed in conjunction with our six-week Cooking Matters program led in partnership with the University of Minnesota Extension Services and funded by Cargill.  Another Cooking Matters series kicks off tomorrow.  We’re excited to give more parents and families the opportunity to learn to cook healthy meals together, one plate at a time.

Cooking Matters Class Comes to a Delicious End

Cooking Matters Class Comes to a Delicious End 541 271 Way to Grow

In week five of Way to Grow’s six week Cooking Matters class, the group took a trip to Cub Foods. But this was unlike any ordinary trip to the grocery store. The group was posed with a challenge: using $10 or less, buy ingredients for a meal that incorporates all five food groups and feeds four.

Cherise rose to the challenge, choosing ground turkey, a tomato, whole wheat tortillas, cheese and romaine lettuce. While she normally grabs iceberg lettuce, instructor Erin informed her that the darker color of the romaine means it’s packed with more good-for-you nutrition, so Cherise decided to branch out. The mini lesson is just one small example of the knowledge Cooking Matters participants learn during any given class.

The mixture of staying under the $10 budget, branching out to try new foods and adding a dash of creativity sent Cherise home with a brand new cooking pan! Her children and sister enjoyed the meal, she said; though, the romaine lettuce wasn’t a hit with her toddler, who thought it was a toy leaf.

The final Cooking Matters class went out on a zesty note today, as participants made and consumed a fabulous meal of homemade corn tortilla chips, mango salsa and a refreshing apple-lime fizz drink.

The class wrapped up with a graduation. Each participant received a certificate of completion, a reusable grocery bag filled with healthy foods and a cookbook with affordable meal and snack ideas. Participants thanked the instructors, citing that they now know how to better understand nutrition labels, purchase healthier foods and stick to a grocery budget.

Cooking Matters’ mission is to help families shop for and cook healthy meals on a budget. Huge thanks to Cargill for providing the class funds, the University of Minnesota Extension for teaching the class and the Center for Families for hosting.

Check out our Facebook page for a gallery of photos from today’s final class.

U of M Economist Publishes Study on Early Ed

U of M Economist Publishes Study on Early Ed 150 150 Way to Grow

Courtesy of University of Minnesota / MinnPost

University of Minnesota professor Aaron Sojourner recently published a study in The Journal of Human Resources centered on the role that high quality pre-k programs can have in tackling the achievement gap.

In an article published in MinnPost, Educator reporter Beth Hawkins wrote, “By age 3, children from low-income families are typically one standard deviation behind their wealthier peers on IQ tests. The 1,000 children in the study who got the very early intervention had the same cognitive abilities as middle- and upper-income kids at age 3.”

In his interview with Hawkins, Sojourner said, “Status at 18 can be well predicted by status at age 5, so we keep going back earlier,” said Sojourner. “And there is compelling experimental and quasi-experimental evidence that early life conditions have large, lasting impacts on life course.

Hawkins also referenced a study by economist (and Way to Grow board member) Art Rolnick that proposed early ed funding for all low-income 3 and 4 year olds based on the incredible return on investment such funding has shown to have on the economy.

Click here to read: New study: High-quality preschool for poor kids under 3 would eliminate achievement gap

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