Fort Bragg shoppers participated in a guided Cooking Matters shopping tour through the South Post Commissary Nov. 14.

The Cooking Matters shopping tours were part of the many events the program launched at the beginning of the week at different locations across Fort Bragg.

Cooking Matters volunteers led the tours, giving participants tips about healthier food options, unit pricing, as well as reading and understanding food nutrition labels, all while on a budget.

“The tours are to help people make nutritional choices on a budget,” Sarah L. Sandifer, a volunteer with the Inter Faith Food Shuttle and tour guide said.

While leading the small groups through the commissary, Sandifer said many of the participants were very savvy and shared their own tips about food shopping.

“It was fantastic,” Sandifer said about the tours. “They learned a lot and I did too.”

Homemaker Emily R. Shipley, she said the tours were informative and she learned the importance of reading the labels.

“It was really well done and they knew what they were talking about,” Shipley said.

Close to a hundred Fort Bragg shoppers participated in the tours, surprising Christine Berman, a manager with Share Our Strength, who helped with the Cooking Matters shopping tours.

“We have tours like this across the country and this is the first time tours have happened on a scale like this,” Berman said.

“We want people to feel inspired to cook more at home and to have a healthier diet,” Berman added about the goals for the tours.

Tracey A. Baker, another homemaker who participated in a tour, said she learned a lot about making better food choices.

“We could all use healthier eating habits,” Baker said about her Family. “I’ll pay more attention to the labels,” she said.

“It’s good for somebody like me who doesn’t know about nutrition,” she added.

After the tour, each group was given a challenge to apply what they learned and select items from the five main food groups for a healthy meal under a $10 budget constraint.

“Healthy eating is delicious and possible within any budget,” Berman said. “The commissary is a great partner in healthy eating.”

The Cooking Matters program had different events scheduled throughout the week and is part of the Healthy Base Initiative campaign, in which Fort Bragg and two other installations participated.

Natascha I. Bruce, a health promotion research assistant for Fort Bragg said there was a fantastic turnout for the different events and she received a lot of positive feedback.

One goal Bruce said she was planning to implement was daycare for the Cooking Matters cooking classes.

“It was one of the hiccups we found,” Bruce said about the Cooking Matters activity.

To continue with the Healthy Base Initiative, Bruce said that within the next three months, cooking classes would be available at the neighborhood centers, along with daycare for those who need it.

“We want to make Fort Bragg a fit and ready community, ” she said.