Cooking classes serve Micronesian and Pacific Islander communities

Pacific Islander and Micronesian Cooking Matters class participants after a cooking class dedicated to culturally based healthy recipes.

Historically the Micronesian and Pacific Islander community in the United States has faced inequitable health outcomes, exacerbated by a lack of access to health care services and social safety nets due to their special residency status.

Oregon SNAP-Ed is a nutrition education program of the Oregon State University Extension Service. Lahaina Phillip, a SNAP-Ed community health specialist for the Portland-area Micronesian Islander community, contacted SNAP-Ed colleague Elena Illescas, who teaches nutrition education in Clackamas County as part of a Spanish-language Cooking Matters class with community partners. Phillip and Illescas collaborated to design and deliver a series of nutrition education and cooking classes with the Micronesian community.

In January 2020, Illescas taught a six class series of Cooking Matters for the Islander community. Participation was excellent, due to the promotional efforts of Phillip, as well as class volunteers Madie Phillip and Myra Horn. The Oregon Food Bank donated grocery gift cards and paid for purchases of culturally specific ingredients. Two of the recipes prepared during class were added to the Extension Food Hero website: Chicken Kelaguen and Stir Fry Mackerel.

Phillip and Illescas expanded their partnership to form a Food Hero Cultural Toolkit Workgroup for Pacific Islanders to highlight traditional ingredients and promote healthy cultural recipes.

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