Letter from a Mom: "I Was Broken and Depressed"

We recently received this letter from Heidi Alphen. She participated in a Cooking Matters course in Massachusetts. Cooking Matters is a No Kid Hungry program that teaches families how to purchase and prepare healthy foods on a budget. The class made a big impact on Heidi’s life, and we’re so glad she took the time to tell us.

Here’s her letter:

Heidi Alphen

Two years ago, I was living in a shelter with my young son. I was broken and depressed. Then the shelter brought in a Cooking Matters class.

I wanted to thank you for your incredible program Cooking Matters. A little more than two years ago, I was living in a shelter with my young son. I was broken and depressed. I was fearful of my future. Then, the shelter brought in a Cooking Matters class. Every week, we learned about food and nutrition, shopping and budgeting, and the challenges faced by low-income mothers to properly feed their families.

Fast forward to two years later. My family and I have a wonderful home filled with love and laughter, and of course, home cooking. Not only have I built a better life for myself, my son, and his father, but I was able to provide a home for my two teenage step-children. I asked myself how could I break the ice, and make them comfortable in my home? How could I show them a mother's love? That’s where the skills I learned from Cooking Matters came in.

I cooked family dinners. I took the kids to the grocery store with me. And amazing things started to happen. My stepson, would sit in the kitchen with me, and we would talk. I was giving him an outlet to talk, just like I had when I attended Cooking Matters class. Then my stepdaughter, who went blind at the age of 6, started asking about cooking. We started talking about technique and how-to's. We brainstormed ways that she could cook despite her blindness.

And lastly, there's my littlest boy. We spend A LOT of time in the produce aisle, talking about colors and shapes, and choosing what to buy that week. He loves to help me so much that we started a weekly "cooking show" and I post videos of on Facebook.

My purpose in writing this is to proudly declare that cooking matters! Cooking Matters gave me my confidence back when I was at the lowest point in my life. It encouraged me to go back to work in the food industry, which in turn provided my family with so many opportunities. And it gave me a whole new outlook on healthy eating. Newsflash: you don't have to be rich to eat nutritious foods!

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for this program, for the wonderful instructors, the fun cookbook, the exciting classes. Thank you for making a difference in my life.

Heidi Alphen