Latino Cooking Class Set for Sunday, April 6, in Worcester

UMass Amherst and Community Partners Highlight a Healthy, Traditional Recipe
Frank Mangan with a calabaza, hard squash grown at the UMass Amherst Research Farm in Deerfield and one of the ingredients of soncocho, the hearty Caribbean stew enjoyed by many Latino immigrants in western Massachusetts. Mangan and others have modified the recipe to be more heart-healthy while retaining authentic taste. UMass Amherst photo


DATE:           Sunday, April 6

TIME:            2 to 4 p.m.

WHAT:          Latino Cooking Class

WHERE:       Hector Reyes House, 27 Vernon St., Worcester

Faculty and staff in the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture, Department of Nutrition and the Extension Nutrition Education Program are partnering with community organizations in Worcester to promote good nutrition and increase sales of local produce.

As part of this effort, organizers will hold a cooking class on Sunday afternoon, April 6 at Hector Reyes House in Worcester where residents will taste and evaluate a nutritionally balanced Latino dish called sancocho, a traditional Caribbean stew familiar to many immigrants in the area. The recipe was developed by residents of the Hector Reyes House, then modified by UMass nutritionists to make it as healthy as possible while maintaining its authenticity.

Frank Mangan of the Stockbridge School says, “Sancocho is a staple in many Latino households and UMass Amherst is excited to be part of this larger collaboration to promote a healthy version of this hearty stew. It is great to partner with the Hector Reyes House on this recipe. The residents will provide us feedback on how they like it, and then we’ll establish a final version that UMass Amherst and others will use as part of our overall project to provide culturally familiar, healthy recipes to Worcester-area schools and the public.”

“We hope this applied research and outreach program can increase fruit and vegetable consumption,” he adds. “And, as part of a larger objective, we’ll work with markets in the area to make more locally grown and culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables available for Worcester residents.” Sunday’s event is part of a collaborative urban agriculture and nutrition project of UMass Amherst, the Community Harvest Project, the Worcester County Food Bank and UMass Medical School.

Mangan has worked for nearly 20 years to identify crops popular among the growing immigrant population in the state and region. Latinos are now the largest minority in Massachusetts at over 7 percent of the population, he notes. He and colleagues work with area farmers to grow vegetables and herbs, such as specialty peppers, squashes, cilantro and onions, used in sancocho and other traditional dishes, for markets and restaurants.

Contact:         Frank Mangan, 508/254-3331;