Cooking with the community: Nutrition students share how to make healthy food taste good

Contact: Nicole Leffler

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Who knew cooking nutritious meals could be so fun? Members of the community recently joined Western Michigan University students in the Student Dietetic Association (SDA) for a “Brunching and Munching” cooking class at Kalamazoo People’s Food Co-op (PFC), a community grocery store owned by more than 3,900 members of the community. The PFC's open door policy plays a great host of for this community event, where participants can benefit from nutrition and dietetic students knowledge on healthy eating.

Nutrition and dietetics students Derek Ficher and Kelly McHugh

“We usually try to incorporate plant-based meals because we know most Americans don’t eat enough fiber for instance or plants in general,” says Derek Ficher, a nutrition and dietetics major and class instructor. “So, we try to bring plant-based cooking to the forefront here and teach community members how to make things like produce, whole grains and beans taste good.”

Most recently, students instructed participants as they prepared a plant-based breakfast of smoked tempeh, cheese grits and sauteed vegetables.

 “Tempeh is fermented tofu, it is an alternative meat option that vegan and vegetarian diets can still use to have that meaty flavor but in a sustainable plant-based way,” explains Kelly McHugh, nutrition and dietetics major and instructor.

Working together, members of the community and SDA students talked about nutrition and healthy eating habits as they prepared the popular dish. This collaboration brings to life one of SDA's main goals: to be a part of the greater community and promote easy way of eating healthier foods.

The “Brunching and Munching” class is a part of a monthly cooking class series hosted by SDA students at PFC. Classes are open to the public and are $8 per person. To learn more about SDA cooking classes, contact the People’s Food Co-op. Upcoming events include: 


The Student Dietetic Association includes current dietetic students and others in the campus community interested in food and nutrition. Members benefit from volunteer opportunities, networking, and assistance with the dietetic internship process. Follow the SDA on Instagram.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.