Extension brings healthy cooking classes to Hispanic families in Charlottesville

Family learns how to cook together.

Families in Ian Pasquarelli’s healthy cooking classes learn about the importance of preparing balanced meals using fresh fruits and vegetables.

When Habitat for Humanity suggested that Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent Ian Pasquarelli’s programs would be of interest to the mainly Hispanic community of Southwood in Charlottesville, he set about developing a Spanish-language component to incorporate into his programming.

As a family and consumer sciences agent, his programming targets low-income, underserved, and underrepresented populations in Albemarle, Fluvanna, and Greene counties and focuses on healthy meal preparation, food safety techniques, and the importance of sharing meals and family time.

“It’s very important to make the connection between the healthy foods we should be eating and how they need to be prepared,” said Pasquarelli. “It doesn’t do us any good to tell people to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables if they don’t know how to prepare them.”

Pasquarelli has partnered with a Spanish-language interpreter to conduct his family nutrition classes. He is currently taking Spanish classes through Virginia Tech, and he hopes to be able to lead future classes in Spanish.

To date he has has conducted 14 healthy cooking classes.