10856477_681221978662556_334235257764201611_oSeven women in blue aprons, armed with gloves and new cooking utensils, lined up in the kitchen at the First Presbyterian Church of Easton ready to learn. This wasn’t a fancy culinary class, rather a demonstration on how to make healthy, creative and inexpensive meals for the entire family, using ingredients commonly distributed by a food pantry. It’s part of an initiative led by Liberty’s Lutheran Congregational Services, partnering with congregations and community service agencies to combat hunger across Eastern Pennsylvania. It kicked off on December 7 with the “Make it, Take it Kitchen” workshop for families served by the Interfaith Food Pantry at ProJeCt, a community human service agency in Easton.

“If were in their shoes, I’d want to feel good and put a healthy meal on the table,” said Nancy Udut, who led the “Make it, Take it Kitchen” workshop at First Presbyterian Church of Easton. “Learning new cooking skills raises self-esteem and encourages positive thinking, and in the long-run the children are healthier. There is a ripple effect.”

With funds from a $3,000 Domestic Hunger Grant from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA,) LCS was able to purchase the food, cooking supplies, as well as soup pots, measuring cups, cutting boards and knife sets for each of the workshop participants. Class participants got right to work with volunteer chefs who taught them how to make bean chowder with vegetables and elbow macaroni, open-face grilled cheese sandwiches and apple slices and cheese for dessert. The ingredients in the meal cost less than $4. After the participants enjoyed eating their newly prepared food, they took home the leftovers, as well as the new soup pots, measuring cups, cutting boards and knives.

“The women we had in the workshop don’t have the money you or I have to put food on the table and they were shocked it cost so little to make a healthy meal,” Nancy said.

LCS Executive Director, Jennifer Ollikainen, hopes this cooking workshop encourages other congregations to launch similar events in their communities. LCS, Jennifer said, can assist congregations with organizing a workshop and leveraging resources for it in their local areas.

“These classes are a step beyond handing out food,” said Jennifer. “We are helping women build valuable skills necessary for a stronger, healthier family.”

For more information on how you and your congregation can get involved, contact Pastor Jennifer Ollikainen at 610-770-9205 or jennifer@lutherancongregationalservices.org

About Lutheran Congregational Services

Lutheran Congregational Services is a service of Liberty Lutheran, a social ministry organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Liberty Lutheran annually provides vital resources to more than 61,000 individuals from the earliest stages of life to the advanced stages of aging, through its family of services in Pennsylvania.

A special thank you to Kelly Pettis Photography for generously donating her time and talents to photograph the December 7 event. Click here to check out her website. Click here to follow Kelly Pettis Photography on Facebook.