Breaking Down Barriers--One (Virtual) Cooking Class at a Time

Benjamin Franklin quoted, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” In a world where there seem to be so many obstacles in our way in order to be involved with one another, Maine SNAP-Ed and Piscataquis Regional Food Center have collaborated to break down some of those barriers through offering Cooking Matters classes-virtually (for now).


Amanda smiles at her laptop camera in the controlled chaos of her home kitchen. The laptop is carefully propped on the counter. Amanda stands at the stove wearing an apron, holding a tortilla in one hand, and stirring something in a bowl with the other. There are several cooking vessels on the stove and a cell phone and light are pointed at them for instruction.
Amanda Junkins, SNAP-Ed Nutrition Educator, hosts a cooking class via Zoom.

Socially (distant?) Cooking

Once a week, for six weeks, a group of 4-8 individuals meets up through Zoom for about an hour each lesson to learn a little about nutrition, a little about budgeting, and a lot of tips and tricks to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. Some cook along, while others watch and learn to try later. We share a bit of our homes and families with one another, including occasionally meeting some of our furry friends. We ask questions and seek guidance. Sometimes we make mistakes and support each other through them. One may almost feel as if we’re not so distant after all.

No Skills or Experience Required

In fact, we’re hoping that it’s those out there who have little to no skills or experience in cooking. You are exactly who we are trying to reach. During the 6 week course, we’ll go over basic skills from how to properly hold a knife to how to cut up a whole chicken. Our hope is to teach, involve and provide a sense of accomplishment so that eating healthy and being able to afford to do so becomes an attainable goal for all.

Meal Kit for Free?!

Ever wanted to try one of those (somewhat costly) meal kits that provide you with the groceries and directions on how to recreate a meal? Or maybe you’ve seen a recipe but don’t want to spend the money on something you’re just not sure you’ll like? The Cooking Matters classes offer a bag of groceries each week with what you need to make the recipe (minus a few standard pantry staples) and then we review how and what works for you and anyone else you’re making meals for. There are options such as diabetes-friendly, freezer-friendly, seasonal specials, and more to choose from. In class, we talk about ways to make it fit your needs or interests. All for free!

But what if…

We get lot’s of questions on things like, “what if I don’t want my camera on?”, “what if I don’t have internet or a computer?”, or “what if I cannot get to the pick-up site or make it to every class?” We’re here for you. We’ll figure it out because as the famous quote goes, “Everything is Figureoutable”.

How to get involved

You can go to the Maine SNAP-Ed website to sign up for future classes but maybe even more importantly, find out who covers your (geographical) region and contact them. Let them know you’re interested in learning more about eating healthy on a budget. Various class options (in-person and virtual) are held throughout the year, all over the state of Maine.

For more information about Maine SNAP-Ed or to find a class near you visit https://www.mainesnap-ed.org/

To learn more about Cooking Matters got to https://cookingmatters.org/


This institution is an equal opportunity provider. Maine SNAP-Ed is funded by the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which is administered by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and implemented statewide by the University of New England (UNE) through contracts with local community organizations. Maine SNAP-Ed educates low-income families on low-cost healthy eating and active lifestyles. Contact