Local cooking classes aims to make healthy eating exciting and educational

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A local non profit doing its part to make sure people in under-served areas have nutritious options.

Augusta Locally Grown hosts a regular plant-based cooking class at St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Harrisburg.

The class is $5 unless you live in Harrisburg and then it is free. The class is also free for those who are part of the SNAP Ed program and for graduates of Augusta Locally Grown’s Veggie prescription program.

“The veggie prescription program is through Georgia Food for Health,” Augusta Locally Grown’s Emily Martin explains. “They provide the funding for us to take 40 families in the community. They have to qualify. I think it’s an income based qualification, but also they have to have a dietary based illness. They come to a clinic and we take their bio-metrics and from there they come for 6 months and every week we give them opportunities for healthy cooking classes as well as prescription tokens for them to purchase fruits and vegetables from the Veggie Park Farmers Market for their entire family.”

Martin shares what is on the menu for this Wednesday night’s cooking class.

“We’re making lemon green beans so it’s going to be steamed green beans and we’re going to have raw fresh squash with it with couscous and a lemon dressing” Martin says.

The group makes a sample meal and then each person preps one to take home.

“With these cooking classes we are growing a sustainable, healthy local food system. Especially, in a neighborhood such as Harrisburg. It’s incredibly important because it’s a food desert. There is no grocery store here and there’s not a lot of access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” Martin points out.

The Tuesday evening farmers market behind the Kroc Center aims to help the situation. Also, Augusta Locally Grown has teaching gardens in Harrisburg and they are expanding operations.

“We have partnered with one healthcare facility in town to do make-and-take cooking classes with some of their patients and of course we would love to build on that. We would like to expand upon our fruits and vegetables prescription program,” Martin says.

Commissioners and other leaders tell NewsChannel 6, there are groups (governement and non profit) working to get a grocery store in Harrisburg. They explained that each store has it’s own little nuances. For example, some must own the property and will not rent, Others care what side of the road the property is on because of ease of access. The big deciding factor, since all grocery stores are businesses, they want to be sure that they will make money before they set up shop in a neighborhood.

City leaders tell me all of the aforementioned factors have yet to line up to bring a grocery store to Harrisburg, but new developments could change that.

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