Students learn with local produce

WARREN – Using locally grown produce and other food items, a Youngstown State University instructor from Ghana, Africa, shared many of the healthy recipes she has prepared for local festivals and events.

An African-style cooking class led by Claudia Hamilton was held recently at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, SS. Cyril & Methodius Church Social Hall, Warren.

Hamilton, who has prepared food for the African cultural programs at YSU, said she wanted to show how to cook healthy African foods in creative ways using local ingredients.

Sheila Calko of Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership and GROW program manager, said Hamilton teaches at Youngstown State University where she is also a graduate student.

Calko’s intern for the GROW program is Samuel Addai, also from Ghana, who introduced her to Hamilton.

“She has been cooking for a lot of African festivals and other cultural events at YSU. People have told me her food is very good, and we wanted to do something here where people could use the local produce that is being grown here in the gardens,” Calko said.

“Most of what we used today for the cooking class was from the Lake to River Cooperative, which is a cooperative of local farms,” Calko said.

Calko said there were a lot of people interested in the class so it may be held again. More than 20 attended the class.

The class was offered in conjunction with Catholic Charities, which gave out information on food safety, nutrition education, measuring cups, can opener and oven mitts.

GROW gave participants a cutting knife and cutting board for the class.

“People often get tired of eating the same meals so we wanted to show them something different,” Calko said.

Joan Sullivan said she wanted to eat healthier and has been growing her own vegetables at a garden in Warren.

“I wanted to learn how to cook natural foods without a lot of heavy preservatives and the best foods to use for a recipe and meals,” she said.

Sullivan said what she found helpful about the class was the hands-on in measuring and checking on the food mostly by sight and smell when preparing the meal of chicken, beef, cole slaw and rice.

Shniqua Walker said she learned about the different spices that can be used and how to eat healthier.

Hamilton said all items can be found in local farmers markets.

”All this can be found in a 50- mile radius of Warren,” she said.

For information on the next class, contact Calko at 330-881-7698 or