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Partners for Affordable Housing — and Healthy Eating

By Rachel Jones, SNAP-Ed Educator and Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate — Health and Nutrition

What do housing and health have in common? In Mankato, the answer is Partners for Affordable Housing (PAH).

PAH strives not only to help clients secure long-term housing but also to improve the health and nutrition of their families being served. The shared goal of improved nutrition and cooking skills forms the basis of the ongoing partnership between SNAP-Ed Educator Rachel Jones and PAH. And the class series that brings it all together? Cooking Matters® Minnesota.

Cooking Matters® Minnesota graduates. Bottom left: SNAP-Ed Educator Rachel Jones.

The recipe for meeting the goal of improved nutrition focuses on a few key ingredients:
  • Grant funding from a local community foundation 
  • Increasing the participant base with expansion to a youth homeless program and domestic violence shelter 
  • Facilities at a nearby church for childcare and kitchen use. 
For the past two years, PAH has secured funds to offer three six-week Cooking Matters® Minnesota courses each year — and the residents are finding it tasty. “It made me realize how cooking can be easy and fun," said one participant. "I think about what I purchase and eat healthier,” said another.

Recently, PAH brought a new partner into the mix: the Minnesota State University (MSU), Mankato Community Engagement program. The interim assistant director, Karen Anderson, worked with PAH to set up container gardens at Theresa House and Welcome Inn, PAH’s two short-term emergency shelters. The produce that grows in these container gardens will be used in Cooking Matters® Minnesota classes, as well as made available to the residents at Theresa House and Welcome Inn.

Rachel will lead the nutrition education classes, focusing on the benefits of growing produce as a way to save money, involve kids, and provide a direct source of fresh food — a healthy new addition to an already tasty recipe!

To learn more about PAH, visit their website at To learn more about Cooking Matters® Minnesota, visit Partner with Us: Cooking Matters® Minnesota.
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