Bringing Food Education to the Workplace
by Susan Post
“Wellness Matters” is the newest program from nonprofit food education organization Local Matters. The program is a way to teach healthy eating at work by offering tips and tricks to prepare a mindful meal.
Participants work with foods such as whole wheat pasta, chicken and roasted veggies, turkey tacos, quinoa salads and frittatas, plus a healthy spin on macaroni and cheese and healthful appetizers such as black bean dip, guacamole, roasted beet hummus and fruit smoothies.
No kitchen? No problem. The four components of Wellness Matters are designed to travel.
During these 45-minute demonstrations, participants learn about nutrition and basic cooking techniques. The program wraps up with samples or a catered lunch, and everyone gets a copy of the recipe.
Hands-On Cooking Classes
Tie on an apron for an interactive demonstration covering everything from plant-based recipes to basic knife skills. These classes help participants learn the basics of healthy cooking.
Lunch and Learns
Trade crumbs on the keyboard for a fun and educational lunch break. This hands-on, 45-minute workshop puts a new spin on the traditional lunch and learn. It also leaves participants with a healthful, seasonal lunch at the conclusion of the event.
Participants can demonstrate their culinary expertise through cook-offs, or learn how to create a healthy meal through more in-depth cooking classes. Team activities provide a bonding experience while instructors share helpful cooking tips.
Besides creating a way for coworkers and clients to interact, access to wellness in the workplace can have additional benefits. Local Matters points to research that shows employees who participate in wellness programs take fewer sick days, have less insurance claims, and have higher productivity and morale than those that do not. Local Matters cites other studies that show for every one dollar spent on wellness programming, there is a return of three to six times that investment.
While primarily designed for and focused on the workplace, Wellness Matters applies to other venues or organizations as well, such as libraries or running groups.
“Learning how to eat healthy and cook healthy meals are tools that everyone needs, especially for working families that sometimes have limited time and budgets,” says Kerry Shaw, Director of Development and Communications at Local Matters. She explains that the new program is fueled by the success Local Matters has achieved in its mission to educate adults and children from communities of need about healthy food. “We are building on what we know works, while making it really fun and easy,” Shaw says.