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Healthy Living Alliance Lends Portable Kitchen to Promote Food Education

Portable kitchen may help combat "food uncertainty" in Greene County
Portable Kitchen at HLA
The portable kitchen comes with two induction burners and other cooking supplies that may fit in a car or trunk. Photo credit: HLASpringfield.org

A health advocacy organization in Springfield is making cooking supplies available for reservation, and they’re calling it “the portable kitchen.” KSMU’s Kaitlyn Schwers has more on what this new initiative can do for the community.

Healthy Living Alliance (HLA) of Springfield recently received a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health, which is allowing them to lend out a portable kitchen for free.

Ben Hunt, community assessment coordinator of HLA, explains that the idea of the portable kitchen, which includes an inventory of cooking supplies, is to encourage community members to educate themselves on food nutrition.

“Basically, the portable kitchen is going to serve as a free resource for anybody in the area, [organizations and instructors] who do food demonstrations or nutrition education at different events, whether it’s in schools, food pantries, at work sites," Hunt says.

The portable kitchen comes with two induction burners, pots, frying pans, utensils, measuring cups, and other items that the average kitchen would need. According to a report by the MU Interdisciplinary Center for Food Security, 24 percent of households with children in Greene County face food uncertainty, which means that the access to food is unreliable or inconsistent. Another study shows that weight gain is associated with households facing food insecurities because a majority of this population is only eating nutritionally-poor food. Hunt adds that healthier food like rice or beans is sometimes overlooked because it requires more preparation, and food pantries – who supply healthy foods - can help.

“So kind of the goal of this - to get out and be in the pantries and then try and reach this part of the community - is to get out and be in the pantries, and then try and reach this part of the community - to educate them on how to properly prepare fresh and nutritious foods, which really isn’t a difficult thing, but sometimes it just takes that little bit of education to help change that behavior or provide that motivation,” Hunt explains.

Organizations or educators may reserve the portable kitchen at the downtown YMCA for free under some conditions.

For more information on HLA or the portable kitchen, visit HLASpringfield.org.

For KSMU News, I’m Kaitlyn Schwers.

UPDATED: Jan. 3, 2014