MRU’s NourishU program teaches students to cook, meal plan, and grocery shop
By Julie Patton, News Editor
On Jan. 19, Mount Royal University (MRU) launched their brand new NourishU program that teaches students the art of cooking, budgeting, and grocery shopping, all for free.
Jody Arndt, director of Wellness Services, said in a recent survey of the student population, almost 50 per cent of the university’s students were struggling with food insecurity.
“What we want to do is put them into a position where not only can they feed themselves, because we’re giving them the money to do that, but also we’re going to give them the life skills to help them budget and grocery shop,” Arndt said.
Funded by Canadian Natural Resources, the program will run once a month for the next three years at The Table food hall on the second-floor of MRU’s Lincoln Park building.
Students who attend the class will cook a fresh meal in three hours with hands-on experience as well as receive kitchen essentials and a $100 grocery gift card, donated by Calgary Co-op and Sobeys.
“Our students are doing everything they can to find resources that will help to support them in improving their food insecurity.”
In the class hosted on Jan. 19, the students learned how to cook chicken and vegetable stir fry with rice.
“We’re going to try as much as we can to also incorporate cooking rice in each of our classes,” Arndt said. “Rice is one of those foods that I think lots of people are still learning how to cook properly but it really fills you up and is nourishing.”
She adds that Wellness Services did not even have the chance to launch the program officially before all 30-40 seats in each class were filled.
“It was just word of mouth.”
The chance to connect
With loneliness being a large concern for students as well, Arndt said the program will also help bring students together.
“They’re doing something that everybody can do, everybody cooks,” she said. “They’re eating a meal together.”
To make the class more accessible in the future Arndt said they hope to introduce more options such as a food box that students can bring home to cook as well as introducing a daycare option for any single parents who would like to attend the class but need childcare.
A third year Anthropology student who attended the class on Jan. 19 said she signed up for the class after she had heard about it from her friend.
“I definitely learned some more knife skills and different ways we can budget out foods and how to preserve food that we buy.”
Being a third year student, she said that she had developed the basic skills of cooking. However, the class introduced her to more practical skills and provided her with extra knowledge.
“A program like this is definitely a good opportunity… it gives students a chance to not only learn new life skills, but also be in a community where they feel comfortable to explain their problems and know that they’re not alone in it.”
She adds that the $100 gift card is a great bonus of the class. The security of knowing you have a little extra money to help get you through the week, or the month, is a huge support.
Although she enjoyed the class, she won’t be signing up again until next year.
“I know it’s limited spots. So getting as many students as they can to do it will be good,” she said. “I think one time was good for me, but if I do hear about it again, I would sign up.”
Any student who is registered at MRU is eligible to sign up for the class and receive all of its benefits.