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Little Rock Families Learn Cooking Matters at the Store

PHOTO: The Cooking Matters At The Store event Tuesday in the Walmart at Little Rock's Riverdale Shopping Center will be a free chance for families to learn some tricks for making nutritious meals on a budget.
PHOTO: The Cooking Matters At The Store event Tuesday in the Walmart at Little Rock's Riverdale Shopping Center will be a free chance for families to learn some tricks for making nutritious meals on a budget.
October 21, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A program Tuesday will show Little Rock families some grocery store techniques for eating well on a budget, and the first 150 to show up will get free gift cards. The program, Cooking Matters At The Store, is to run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Walmart at the Riverdale Shopping Center. It's sponsored by the national No Kid Hungry campaign and supported by Walmart.

The Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance is the No Kid Hungry campaign's partner in the state. According to Nancy Conley, communications director for the Alliance, the event will offer free, self-guided tours on how to get the best value and nutrition from a grocery store.

She said it'll show "how to purchase and prepare nutritious meals on a budget. Not just how to cook them and chop them and put them in the oven, but actually how to make good choices at the store."

Cooking Matters At The Store will cover nutrition labels, unit pricing, and shopping for produce, protein, dairy and whole-grain foods. Conley said the point is that informed shoppers make healthier and more budget-wise meal choices for themselves and their families.

Factors in such choices include "buying in bulk; reading the nutrition labels and seeing how much salt and sugar; how to choose between frozen, canned or fresh," she said. "And people walk away with a huge understanding."

Tuesday's event is part of a free six-week Cooking Matters class. Conley said it really is wonderful to see people who may struggle with food insecurity learn how cooking can help them get the most from their budgets. She says there was one mother who first learned how to cook eggplant from one of the classes.

"Now her son wants to have eggplant whenever he can, because he really likes it," she said. "This is a program that introduces new vegetables that can mean a lot to them, for a lifetime, really."

Conley said the first people to show up Tuesday at the Walmart on Cantrell Road will get free $10 grocery cards. For more information go to CookingMatters.org or ARHungerAlliance.org

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - AR