A Cleveland Connects, Community Cooks, workshop and dinner was recently hosted by the Cleveland Neighborhood Association (CNA).
Cleveland Connects, led by Appetite for Change was held on at the Christ English Lutheran Church, 3210 Oliver Ave. N. Appetite for Change is a community based organization in North Minneapolis that engages communities to eat healthier while building community connections.
"It's called Cleveland Connects because the idea is to connect neighbors with one another," said Ariah Fine, head of the Cleveland Neighborhood Association.
And the connection is all about healthy eating.
"We do this by bringing families together to cook, eat and talk," said Michelle Horovitz executive director for Appetite for Change. "We have a lot of families here cooking fresh, homemade, healthy recipes."
Dishes prepared at the event were corn-meal crusted baked chicken, braised greens with a mix of collard, mustard and kale, cornbread, skin-on garlic herb mashed potatoes, mixed green salad with lemon dressing, homemade ranch dressing and apple crisp.
"All the recipes are comfort food recipes, but cooked a little differently. We do not use as much cream, (we use) low-fat milk, whole wheat flower, less butter, (we don't) deep fry, (and we incorporate) more fruits and vegetables, and baking," said Horovitz.
An example of making food healthier was the ranch dipping sauce, which included three cups of yogurt and skim milk instead of mayonnaise and regular milk. The salad contained tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, olive oil and lemon juice.
Appetite for Change has partnered with the Jordan Area Community Council for a community garden on 26th Avenue at Knox Avenue and is working on a project called The Healthy Corner Store Initiative, a project coordinated to assist corner stores in offering fresh fruits and vegetables and promoting consumption in the community
Community Cooks 2.0 is also in the works at Appetite for Change.
"Instead of bringing large groups of families together, we will bring small groups of families together more often," said Horovitz. "We (will) just cook a whole bunch of food (together), enough that you and your family can take home meals to last for the week, or freeze for later."
As the evening progressed, groups were created to discuss healthy eating options and what choices in the community would help drive this issue. One group stated healthy alternatives in North Minneapolis are few and that mostly everything is fried – an example being the multiple fried chicken establishments on West Broadway. According to the group, another factor was that healthier or organic foods cost more.
Cleveland Connects received a small grant to encourage healthy eating.
This was the first participatory cooking event hosted by CNA. The concept was encouraged by the neighbors and block club leaders to formulate an event for people in the community to get to know one another.
"The outcome for Appetite for Change is they get to encourage people to continue healthy practices in eating, and let people become aware of the work they do," said Fine. "The outcome for CNA is more residents will go home having shared a meal and conversation with neighbors on the block. There are a lot of positive things happening and it really happens by neighbors encouraging one another and being supported by the neighborhood organization to get to know each other and their communities," Fine said.