Maitland Library Cooks Up Healthy Programming

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The young boys and girls at a recent Maitland Public Library cooking class were focused and patient as they learned how to measure and pour flour, water, sugar, salt and yeast into their bowls—all needed to produce a loaf of bread.

But toothy smiles exploded when they finally got the okay to plunge their fingers into bowls for some sticky, manual mixing.

The cooking class is just one of many offered by the library, including the healthy chefs and cultural cooking series. Programming changes like this are taking hold as the library strives to provide an environment that supports and inspires community interest in getting healthier.

In addition to this and other cooking classes for all ages, the library each Thursday at 6:30 a.m. hosts a community walking group. There is a yoga class offered, new bike racks were installed for visitors arriving on two wheels, water fountains are equipped with a special spout for filling water bottles, and the library’s annual fundraiser is a 5K race.

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Not everything the library does is focused on health, explains Ellen Shellhause, Maitland Public Library Executive Director. “But being healthy is important to the community now, and we think it is important to provide healthy classes in the library.”

Healthy Central Florida (HCF) has inspired a lot of the activity, according to Ms. Shellhause. HCF is a community-based initiative founded by Florida Hospital and the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) to help local communities embrace health and wellness. To accomplish the task, HCF recruited and trained teams of community leaders in Winter Park, Maitland and Eatonville to work on policy and environmental change. Ms. Shellhause is an active member of the Maitland team.

The library recently received a $650 mini-grant from HCF to launch cooking classes for kids incorporating fresh produce. Ms. Shellhause said the library hopes to produce some ingredients on library property.

In addition, the WPHF awarded a $36,000 grant so the library could replace its makeshift kitchenette with a full service cooking demonstration area so healthy cooking classes can be expanded. Library demonstration kitchens are a rarity in the country, she said.

And, just in time for the new school year, the library is cooking up plans for classes that teach parents and kids how to prepare easy and affordable healthy school lunches.

Maitland Public Library 145Stay tuned as programming expands.

Click here for more information on the library.

For more information about HCF, click here.