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NEWS | Jan. 17, 2024

JBSA boosts resiliency through cooking

By Lori A. Bultman 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Entering the new year, U.S. Army leaders pledged to renew their commitment to the financial well-being of Soldiers and their families through a variety of enhanced resources and educational programs. One of these involves quick and affordable meal preparation.

The Vogel Resiliency Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston is busy meeting this goal through a variety of cooking classes taught by Chef Mary Long, culinary wellness instructor at the Vogel Resiliency Kitchen.

“Here at the Vogel, we have a hands-on culinary program that is available for no cost to all Department of Defense ID card holders,” Long said. “Classes currently include Cooking on a Budget, Instant Pot, Mindful Meals, Kids and Parents Cooking, Heart-Healthy Cooking, and several others.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for me, to be able to facilitate the classes, because these students are going to get to jump in there and get some new recipes and time of community and connection that maybe they don’t have,” Long said.

Classes, other than the Kids and Parents class, are for adults only, but children 16 and up may attend with an adult.

Vickie White, the spouse of an Army retiree, attended the Cooking for Busy People class on Jan. 16 and enjoyed her time in the Vogel kitchen.

“I like to cook, learn things and meet people,” she said. “This class has all three.”

In addition to cooking, participants in this class learned about self-care from retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Beverly Benson, currently a Public Health nurse at the Vogel.  

“When we are busy, we forget ourselves,” Benson said. “I want to make sure people remember to take care of themselves, especially during times of high stress and when we are really busy and not thinking about eating healthy, not thinking about drinking water. I want to remind them to do that.”

In addition to the cooking opportunities at the Vogel, classes are held in the barracks for Better Opportunities for Single Service Members, or BOSS, participants.

“The barracks where the classes are held has two full cooking stations, and Soldiers can utilize those to cook meals,” Long said. “It has been interesting to see how, over time, the class has led to Soldiers cooking in the barracks on their own time. I was there the other day and saw someone cooking a whole fish.”

Long said the kitchens are also bringing Soldiers together.

“There are people who walk past each other going to their barracks room and have never said hello, and now they are jumping in and making friends and making connections in the kitchens,” she said.

A schedule of all upcoming cooking classes can be found at Registration is required and can be completed by email at

In addition to teaching, the Vogel also hosts a monthly food distribution event for military families experiencing food insecurity.

The next distribution event will be held on Jan. 22 in the parking lot next to the U.S. Post Office, 2492 Stanley Road, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston. Recipients must have a DOD ID card and should register in advance HERE