How do you create a delicious and nutritious meal using just a mug and a microwave?
Dr. Shari Youngblood, an instructor for the Maryland University of Integrative Health, knows how to do just that and aims to teach this important skill to military personnel as part of a nutritional cooking class at Fort Meade.
With a target audience of single soldiers and others with limited cooking supplies and space, Dr. Youngblood will lead class participants through a series of lessons designed to help them develop basic skills in the kitchen.
A second set of classes geared towards young families on post will offer insight into preparing healthy and nutritious, yet simple meals that adults and children can enjoy.
The classes will begin early next year in Corvias community kitchens, until the new Education and Resiliency Center opens later in 2022.
As the daughter of a service member, Dr. Youngblood grew up on Fort Gordon and remembers the days when her parents struggled to provide healthy meals to the family. With the prevalence of frozen and fast-food options and few kitchen skills, it can be hard for young individuals and parents to make the right meal decisions.
A small advisory committee was formed this fall to help Dr. Youngblood best understand the needs of the Fort Meade Community. The committee includes COL (Ret.) Beverly Maliner, Commander Marivic Fields and Fort Meade nutritionist Nancy Reed, each of whom has offered invaluable insights and guidance regarding the curriculum for these upcoming courses.
Prior to COVID, individuals living in the barracks faced the greatest need in terms of cooking education. The question of “how can I cook in a microwave” is very real to them, since “burners are not allowed” according to Commander Fields.
When COVID hit, soldiers had orders to stay in their rooms, further complicating their ability to access healthy foods.
As the pandemic subsides and things return to normal, Ms. Reed is seeing first-hand the profound impact these restrictions had on these individuals. “Most of them had few options and spent their isolation ordering from food delivery apps,” she said.
With these insights in mind, Dr. Youngblood is now planning the curriculum for the courses, focusing on simplicity and ease of access. This spring, she hopes to enroll 20 students in the pilot class.
In partnership with our sister organization, the FMA Foundation, we have launched an online resiliency portal earlier this year that gives Fort Meade personnel and their family members valuable resources right at their fingertips.