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There’s a food truck driving around teaching people how to cook kale

Vetri's Mobile Teaching Kitchen. November 3, 2016 Category: FeatureFeaturedMethodShort
Yes, kale is a “superfood,” a.k.a. really stupidly good for you. The problem is, not a lot of people know how to prepare it to make it palatable.

That’s the problem Vetri Community Partnership is hoping to solve with Mobile Teaching Kitchen. It might look like a food truck, said COO Kelly Herrenkohl, but it’s actually a classroom. And it’s posting up outside of farmers markets, schools and community events in neighborhoods throughout the city.

A lot of neighborhoods don’t have access to healthy foods, said Herrenkohl. And while there’s more than enough healthy, nontraditional foods like kale and eggplant to go around, the challenge is figuring out how to get the goods where they need to go — at an affordable price.

Vetri is partnering with healthy food nonprofits SHARE Food Program and The Food Trust to get produce to the sites for sale at discounted rates (and through SNAP). Then, Vetri is showing folks how to prepare it.

“The ultimate goal is that people will have more skills to be able to take the resources available in their neighborhood and be able to make nutritious meals that taste good,” Herrenkohl said. “Are they buying ingredients? Are they making it on their own? Have they tried a new ingredient? I think the number one goal is affecting people’s purchasing behavior.”

It seemed to work last week during a session at Food Trust’s Hunting Park market. Herrenkohl said about two-thirds of the folks who participated in the demo went back to the market to buy the ingredients.

“We were driving demand for that particular kind of produce,” she said. “The fact of the matter is, everybody can learn more about how to make nutritious, healthy food taste good.”

Herrenkohl said she’s even learning herself.

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But here’s the thing. These are only the “beginning stages” of Mobile Teaching Kitchen. There will be a few more weeks of tweaking the project and figuring out how to make the most it before winter.

“We’ll take all that information and be able to roll out in the spring with all that information directing us,” said Herrenkohl. “We anticipate we’ll be at more sites with SHARE and hopefully Food Trust.”

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