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When Yakeline Argueta arrived in the United States, healthy cooking wasn’t a priority; she was simply struggling to get by. Then the El Salvador native learned about Through The Kitchen Door (TTKD), a Washington, D.C.-based program that helps at-risk and low-income families learn basic kitchen techniques and how to cook healthy inexpensive food.
She enrolled in a TTKD cooking class and graduated a changed woman; she lost more than 70 pounds and had the skills to feed her family well on a budget. “Now my kids eat carrots instead of potato chips. We stopped drinking sodas. And we don’t eat fast food anymore. I bulk-cook food with my kids one day a week, so I save time and money,” she says.
For many Americans, cooking healthy food on a budget can be difficult. A third of adults and 16 percent of children are obese and the highest obesity rates in the U.S. are associated with the lowest incomes and education levels, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, says, “Simply put, fats and sweets cost less, whereas many healthier foods cost more.”