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Cooking Matters Michigan

Empowering families with the skills, confidence and knowledge to prepare healthy and affordable meals

Volunteer spotlight: Katherine Peters

dorothy hernandez

This month, we're featuring Katherine Peters (she's on the right in this photo). We first met Katherine earlier this year when she signed up to volunteer for Cooking Matters. Shortly afterward she was hired on as a staffer at Gleaners, heading up our Fresh Food Share program. The Troy native taught nutrition at an Eating Right class this summer at Detroit Northwest 7th Day Adventist.

She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in nutritional science and did a three-year stint working with the Walter Reed project in Uganda as part of the Peace Corps. She initially was to work in HIV care and treatment but then started doing nutritional counseling. She developed programs, worked with agriculture and “everything you can imagine.” She extended her two-year service a year to do research protocols, looking to compare viral burden and pediatric HIV infections to nutrition status.

Sadly Katherine is leaving us to start up community nutrition clinics in Liberia. She took some time out from her busy schedule to tell us more about her plans.

CM: How did you like working in Uganda? Katherine: I loved it. It was definitely a huge adjustment. I had no running water … electricity went in and out. I didn’t have electricity for two months because a transformer blew. … I also had no refrigerator which always amazes people.

CM: It sounds like you were really busy with work. What else did you do while you were there? Katherine: Peace Corps gives you a lot of travel days so I spent a lot of time in East Africa. I went to local weddings, burial ceremonies … I tried to get as much culture as I could. … I also played soccer in a men’s league for 2 ½ years. The first time I played they were like “Who is this white girl?” but by the end I got their respect. My knees are all scarred [from playing].

CM: Tell us about your next adventure. Katherine: I will be going to Liberia. I have a six-month contract with the World Food Programme. … I think my title is nutrition and community health adviser. … [The position] was a perfect fit. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school in the fall. I love Africa and I’ve always wanted to work with the World Food Programme. It was a combination of location and the mission [in deciding to take this position].

CM: You are going to med school next year, right? Katherine: Yes. I’ve gotten into four schools and I have to decide within the next couple of weeks because there is a deadline. I also have an interview later this month.

CM: What field of medicine are you looking to get into? Katherine: Ultimately I want to do international work. … Doctors Without Borders is applicable to that kind of work [I’m interested in].

CM: How did you hear about Operation Frontline/Cooking Matters? Katherine: After I got back to the U.S. (in December 2009), I knew I wanted to do volunteer work because that’s important to me. … I saw the listing and thought, “Oh this is perfect.”

CM: What do you like best about volunteering for Cooking Matters? Katherine: I really enjoy seeing people remembering information from week to week … the continuity of information.

CM: Is there a specific example that sticks out in your mind? Katherine: During the grocery store tour. We talk about reading food labels but when we were in the store a woman picked up a loaf of bread and read the label and said “Oh this is not a whole grain!”

Thanks, Katherine, we will miss you!

We asked Katherine to share a favorite recipe with us.

Udon Noodles with Walnuts and Pomegranates
1 10.25oz. pkg. dried udon noodles
1 lb. broccoli, cut into small florets (3 cups)
1 small red bell pepper, dice (1 cup)
2 Tbs. toasted walnut oil, divided
1 12 oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 Tbs. maple syrup
1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
5 green onions, whit and green parts, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1. Cook noodles in boiling salted water 3 minutes. Add broccoli and bell pepper and simmer 2 more minutes. Drain.
2. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in skillet over medium heat. Add tofu cubes and cook 10 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from heat, add garlic, and stir 30 second or until garlic is fragrant. Stir in walnuts, maple syrup, and remaining walnut oil.
3. Toss pasta mixture with tofu mixture, pomegranate seeds and green onions.