Atlanta nonprofit teaches patients how to cook after cancer diagnosis

Classes are held monthly at Northside Hospital.
Northside Hospital in partnership with the nonprofit Cancer Support Community Atlanta holds monthly cooking classes tailored to people who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Published: Oct. 24, 2023 at 8:11 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - There are many benefits to knowing your way around the kitchen. It’s less expensive to prepare a meal at home rather than eat out. More importantly, food is fuel so having basic cooking skills helps us prepare healthier meals. But cancer patients or cancer survivors often need to “fuel” differently.

Northside Hospital, in partnership with the nonprofit Cancer Support Community Atlanta, holds monthly cooking classes that are tailored to people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

“Food is emotional and it’s social as well. So, we’re giving patients the empowerment that they can have a meal that’s helpful for them, but it can also bring them a lot of enjoyment,” said Savannah Duffy, a clinical dietitian at Northside Hospital.

A rotating group of registered dietitians give live cooking demonstrations monthly at Northside Hospitals that are focused on what they call fueling cancer patients and survivors for physical activity.

Many cancer patients undergoing treatment struggle with taste changes, appetite, and nausea. Also, they may be too weak to create a full-on meal, so experts help design recipes to be uncomplicated and easily adaptable.

“So, maybe I make extra rice today and I could use rice three or four different ways. Maybe I make a full pound of dried beans and I could use those for five different ways, and four or five different variations,” said Chef Kip Hardy, of Cancer Support Community.

During a recent cooking demonstration, Chef Kip showed attendees how to prepare an autumn panzanella salad with breaded beans.

“We want to make sure they are maximizing their calories. Everything that they can get in, that they want to eat, they feel like eating, is really tasty and nourishing,” said Chef Kip.

Outside of cooking classes, Cancer Support Community Atlanta also offers several free services, including counseling and support groups for cancer patients and survivors.

Joanna Koskey, a two-time breast cancer survivor, now volunteers with the organization.

“Just find that group, whatever it might be, that is a support system for you and to maintain positive. Stay positive and keep positive people around you,” said Koskey.

You can learn more about Cancer Support Community Atlanta here as well as check out a library of their live cooking demonstrations by visiting the organization’s website here.