Maitland Public Library Plans to Expand Healthy Cooking Classes

maitland libraryThe Maitland Public Library plans to expand its Healthy Chefs and Cultural Cooks series thanks to a $36,000 grant from the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) enabling it to convert its makeshift kitchenette into a full service cooking demonstration area.

For nearly two years, the Maitland Public Library has been an active supporter of Healthy Central Florida (HCF), and several staff members actively participate on HCF’s Healthy Maitland Team.  In this role, the library hosts weekly Thursday morning community walks and has introduced educational cooking programs to its patrons.

Current programs include a Healthy Chefs and Cultural Cooks series for adults, as well as specific topic-based offerings such as gluten-free and vegetarian cooking.  A Cooking Up Culture program is available for children.  As part of its Healthy Chefs program, chefs from local restaurants come to the library to demonstrate how to prepare healthy dishes. Chefs share their recipes–with full nutritional information–as well as tips and techniques for preparation, answer questions and provide samples to taste. The Cultural Cooks series highlights ethnic cuisine and follows a similar format.  Cooking Up Culture teaches school age children about the cultures of different countries and regions through multimedia presentations and hands-on cooking demonstrations of healthy and interesting food from the geographic area studied.

The success of the existing programs has proven that people of all ages will participate in a healthy cooking program when it is presented in a manner that teaches each step of the process and makes eating healthy fun and easy to understand.  The Library wants to expand its efforts to promote healthy eating habits among Maitland residents and will expand its current programming by offering more frequent demonstrations and also offer new ones.

In addition, the library staff is working with the Maitland Senior Center to craft a cooking program for seniors designed to teach “Healthy Cooking for One or Two.” The Library envisions additional programming specific to health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and other common chronic diseases that are primarily lifestyle acquired.  At the demonstrations, library staff will present cookbooks, other books, and DVDs on health and wellness that can be used to further improve health.