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Unhealthy food contributes to disease, especially in Latino families who lack access to healthy foods and nutrition education.
Healthy food, on the other hand, is medicine.
That’s the belief of the Culinary Health Education for Families (CHEF) program in San Antonio (63% Latino).
CHEF teaches children and families basic nutrition and practical cooking skills. The long-term goal is to motivate individuals and communities to adopt and sustain healthier eating and wellness habits.
“[We want to] make sure that every family, regardless of income level, or education level, can put a healthy, nutritious, familiar meal on the table that’s better for them perhaps than what was there before,” said Suzanne Mead Feldmann of the Goldsbury Foundation, a group behind CHEF.
CHEF now extends into schools—can your school be a part?
The Start of the CHEF Program
Nearly 40% of Latino kids are overweight or obese.
The CHEF program formed to address these issues.
CHEF started in 2014 thanks to the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and the Goldsbury Foundation.
Read our Salud America! Salud Hero story about their formation!
Since their formation, they have launched three major activities.
CHEF in the Hospital
The CHEF program is already making change with their teaching kitchen at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
They have implemented their culinary health model for children and families in preventing diet related chronic diseases such as diabetes and high-blood pressure.
The teaching kitchen focuses on teaching physician-referred patients the basics of nutrition and cooking. It also takes into account a child’s specific disease and their health status.
School nurses can also refer their students to the CHEF teaching kitchen at the hospital.
The classes are free of charge for the patient and their caregiver.
Furthermore, the CHEF team at the hospital is training physicians and other health care providers culinary medicine.
CHEF in the Community
CHEF’s teaching kitchens have expanded through a rapidly growing network of dedicated partners.
Teaching kitchen locations include the Mays Family Boys and Girls club, two YMCA branches, and the San Antonio Botanical Garden.
They also have demonstration kitchens are the Pearl Farmers’ Market.
CHEF in San Antonio Schools
What’s next for CHEF?
“As we know by just taking a look around your average school, we have an obesity challenge in San Antonio. However, we need to recognize that the condition is blind to socio-economic status – meaning that obesity is found is every segment of the city, regardless of income,” Feldmann said.
Their CHEF Bites curriculum is designed specifically for school settings. It is a step-by-step approach to delivering culinary education classes.
“You don’t have to be a Dietitian or CIA trained Chef to teach this program. What you do need is the passion to bring this program to your students”, said Katy Bowen, MS, RDN, LD, director of community outreach for CHEF. “We believe that the more that kids are involved with the cooking process, the more likely they are to eat healthier foods”.
The classes are around 20-40 minutes long, in which the instructor will demonstrate the recipe.
During the class, there is usually optional physical activities and mindful moments that reinforce lesson objectives. Additionally, the lessons incorporate nutrition information throughout the program, then students get to sample the recipe.
“We want them to take these recipes home to their parents so they can share these fun new skills with their families,” Bowen said.
CHEF Bites curriculum is designed to be flexible, scalable, and economical.
The curriculum can be taught to children with or without a teaching kitchen, uses a Train the Trainer protocol to ensure fidelity to its curricula, and costs between $0.24 and $0.35 per student/per class.
CHEF partners will have access to curricula, training, mentoring, coaching, and CHEF – approved recipes, as well as promotion of the partnership through CHEF’s website and social media outlets.
Bring CHEF To Your San Antonio School
Are you a part of a local school district that wants to partner with CHEF?
- Training and Mentoring
- CHEF Curriculum
- Culinary Tools
- Logistical Support
- Assistance Telling Your CHEF Story
- Pilot Grant Funding
What is CHEF looking for in a partner?
- Supportive School Team
- Participation in CHEF Training
- Participation in Program Evaluation Strategies
- Desire to Promote CHEF Program
- Strategies to Engage Parents.
If you are interesting in partnering with CHEF, you will need a letter of support from your principal to complete the application.
Not in San Antonio? Why not create a CHEF approved pantry at home?!