College Improves Nutrition, Cooking

May 15th, 1998 | By | Category: 9-4: Pre- K-12 Education, Tribal College News

Cankdeska Cikana Community College on the Fort Totten Reservation in North Dakota has developed a culturally relevant nutrition and cooking class. Inspired by the necessity to better use commodity foods, Mary Trottier taught the class “Dakota Cooking,” introducing nutrition; cooking terminology; common substitutions; food preparation; and recipe analysis for fat, calories, and salt. “We had people who, when they first entered the class, only knew how to make toast, a hamburger, and a grilled cheese sandwich,” Trottier says. The program was funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Trottier has dedicated much of the last three years to broadening the commodity offerings available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the reservation. What initially began as 26 staple products of canned foods, canned meats, and flour, has blossomed into a wide array of over 60 products including fresh fruits and some fresh vegetables, frozen meats, dry cereals, spaghetti sauces, and fruit juices. “They [USDA] finally realized we’re not as remote as they thought we were for so many years,” says Trottier. The variety of foods expanded the variety of recipes. By the end of the course, those who were once masters of toast walked out knowing they could handle a larger culinary creation. “It was really great to watch them make lasagna, pizza, and pumpkin pies,” Trottier says.

Trottier acknowledges the help of Shirley Watkins at USDA, who helped add fresh produce to the list of commodity foods. Candeska Cikana Community College hopes to continue the program and will reapply for funding. A recipe book is also being compiled from area residents. All cooks whose recipes are published will receive a stipend.

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