When clients kept giving back the beans and rice they received from the Niles Township Food Pantry, its director, Cynthia Carranza, finally figured out why.
"I'm 44, and anyone my age or younger, if we give them beans and rice, they don't know what to do with it," she said.
"Older people know to make soup, but younger people want stuff that's almost pre-packaged."
Carranza decided to offer cooking classes that would teach clients to prepare the nutritious, but sometimes unfamiliar, food they get at the pantry.
At the first class Monday afternoon, three volunteers and three students showed up, but Carranza said about a dozen were expected for the evening class.
Volunteers from St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Skokie and Morton Grove Community Church in Morton Grove participated in the effort.
"We had our whole church submit recipes. All the ingredients are things they get here at the pantry," said Christy Krier, a volunteer from St. Paul's.