ACMS Foundation Spotlight: Nutrition Classes at Light of Life Rescue Mission

By: Jocelyn Buhite, Light of Life Rescue Mission Communications Coordinator

Light of Life Rescue Mission realized that our clients typically don’t understand that an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression, anxiety and other health issues that many of them face. So, with the help of the grant award funds provided by the Allegheny County Medical Society Foundation, we implemented Cooking Matters, a six-week, hands-on course that teaches clients and graduates of the Mission’s long-term recovery programs easy and low-cost ways to improve their health through nutrition. The classes are taught by nutrition education professionals from Adagio Health and focus on teaching families at risk of hunger how to shop for and cook affordable, delicious and healthy meals.

Cooking Matters is SNAP-Education approved and an evidence-based intervention that can effectively improve participants’ food security, attitudes toward cooking, and fruit and vegetable consumption. Research from the ConAgra Foods Foundation shows that low-income families are cooking dinner from scratch at home and are highly interested in making healthy meals, but the cost of healthy groceries is a significant barrier for them to consistently make nutritious and delicious meals.

“Diet is potentially the most powerful intervention we have. By helping people shape their diets, we can improve their mental health and decrease their risk of psychiatric disorders,” said Psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor at Columbia University.

Participants are provided with groceries to take home after each class so that they can implement the skills and practice the recipes they learned that day in their own kitchens. They also receive a kitchen starter kit and means to obtain produce for an additional eight weeks following the completion of the course. All of this is to ensure that participants are able to continue using the knowledge they gained, even after they finish the Cooking Matters course. The hope is that these skills are passed down to the participants’ children so that a generational knowledge of smart nutrition is developed.

To learn more about Light of Life Rescue Mission, visit their website at:

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