CROSS COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - What you cook matters and it starts with what you buy.
Representatives with the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas partnered with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance to bring, "Cooking Matters at the Store" to Cross County residents.
People from both organizations, along with volunteers from the Center on Aging and dietetic interns from Arkansas State University, set up stations throughout Hays grocery store in Wynne on Friday.
Erin King, program coordinator with the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas said each station focused on a different food group or helpful tip.
"They go through a real quick tour in the store," King said. "They learn about fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat protein and at the end you get a ten-dollar gift card."
Samantha Stadter with the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance said programs like this are needed.
"One in five Arkansans are food insecure," Stadter said. "That means they don't know how to meet their nutritional needs with the resources they have. So, we're here to help families with a limited food budget. To really learn how to stretch those food dollars so they're getting the most nutrition for their money."
"I think there's a misconception out there," King said. "That eating healthy breaks the bank. That you have to have enough money in order to eat healthy. And that's what we're trying to teach people. That eating healthy doesn't have to break the bank. You can get good, nutritious meals for yourself, your children and families that are not only going to fill you up and give you the energy you need, but also save you money."
Patsy Moyers of Wynne said she learned some valuable tips going through the stations.
"The bread needs to be 100% whole wheat," Moyer said. "If you use frozen vegetables instead of can you won't get sodium. It's up to you if you put salt in there."
Cherry Valley resident Debbie Talburt also participated.
"I enjoyed it," Talburt said. "I learned new ideas. I learned to save money. They had some valuable information and I think other people would enjoy participating in it."
"We've had a lot of people come through," King said. "They say they're learning a lot of healthy tips. If people can pick up two or three healthy tips to improve their diet and improve their meals for their family and save themselves a little bit of money then it's all worth it."
Stadter said one of the most important things you can do when shopping is check the ingredients.
"People should always check their food label," Stadter said. "Look at the ingredient list to know for sure what you're buying. The front of the package, a lot of the time, is just an advertisement. Advertisers will use a lot of tricky language to try to make you think you're buying one thing when you're getting another. There's one place they have to be one hundred percent honest and that's the ingredient list. So, always check your food label."
Stadter said many who participated in the event were shocked with what they learned.
"I think one of the biggest surprise people find are with grains," Stadter said. "A lot of times people think if the bread is brown that means it's whole wheat bread, but that's not true. You've got to flip it over and look at that ingredient to know for sure if you've got whole grain bread."
"Get a little more produce in your diet," King said. "Look for whole grains instead of enriched and bleached flour. Look for low fat, lean protein.
The Community Foundation of Cross County funded the event.
Nearly 90 people decided to participated in "Cooking Matters at the Store."
For more information about the Food Bank of Northeast Arkansas, click here.
To learn about Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance, click here.
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