Cooking Up Outreach
DAVIS, OKLA. – One of the most powerful ways to reach people is through their stomach. If you cook it, they will come. At least that seems to be the case, if you’re Margaret Brown.
About eight years ago, Brown began instructing cooking classes at the Arbuckle View Seventh-day Adventist Church in Davis, Okla. Her “Healthy You Cooking Class” quickly became popular among the congregation and the community.
The classes are held on the second Tuesday of each month, between September and April, with the exception of December. With 20 to 40 students (mostly non-Adventist) in attendance each class, Brown instructs how to cook about six vegan recipes. Her goal is to make sure that each person finds at least one recipe they like that they will make regularly.
Each class begins with prayer, followed by a brief introduction to healthy living when anyone new attends. Then Brown demonstrates how to prepare the ingredients and put each recipe together. Adding to the value of the class, a nutrition specialist, Diana Fleming, Ph.D., shares nutritional insights on related topics each month. After the cooking demonstrations, attendees enjoy a free buffet of the foods demonstrated.
Many of the people in the Davis and Sulphur communities and within the congregation, have had an interest in health, so Brown’s healthy cooking class was happily welcomed. People are drawn to this fun, social, and educational event. The food, fellowship, meal ideas, and nutritional content provide a lot of value to attendees that keep people coming back.
Brown puts a lot of thought into the recipes she chooses to demonstrate. With her background as a nurse practitioner, she selects and creates recipes that families findnot only nutritional and healthy from a healthcare provider perspective, but also practical and delicious.
If your church is considering a similar class series, Brown recommends being consistent and creating expectations people can count on. Further sharing her insight and experience, she says, “I find there are more and more folks who do have some knowledge about what is healthful, so ensure that the recipes are healthful. Traditionally in Adventism, we just worried about being vegetarian, while refined vegetarian meat substitutes, cheese and grease were fine. Now it is important to share recipes that are largely low fat, low salt, high fiber, whole food, plant-based, and using less wheat and soy as more are allergic to it.”
Borwn and her team of volunteers work hard to deliver a valuable and positive experience each class. The ladies from church arrive before the class to help with any last minute prep, keep things organized during the class, and help clean up after.
After the class, attendees can pick up recipe handouts and free healthful living books that are from the Ardmore Institute of Health.
Brown’s passion, dedication and leadership, along with the help of the faithful ladies from church, have made this wonderful and life-changing program a success. These classes are a blessing to all those involved and to the community, bringing people closer together and helping them to live happier, healthier lives.
By Lisa Anthony
Photo by Daniel Ortega