Making Communities Healthier

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The word is spreading about Children’s Aid Society’s healthier recipes. United Neighborhood Houses, a membership organization that provides its members with policy development and advocacy support, has partnered with Children’s Aid to bring healthier cooking into shelters, day care centers and senior centers.

The program called Cooking for Healthy Communities has begun training dozens of cooks. “These guys know how to cook,” said Stefania Patinella, Director of Foods and Nutrition at Children’s Aid but adds that the training will enhance knife skills and teach them to use fresh vegetables instead of canned. Stefania developed the new recipes for the program following state serving guidelines and budget restrictions.

The goal of this program is to bring healthier foods to those who depend on such organizations regularly for meals. Jacqueline Martinez, Senior Program Director at New York State Health Foundation which helped fund the healthy cooking program understands the importance of providing healthy meals to low-income neighborhoods where the rates of obesity and diabetes are higher. “The reality is, people just don’t have access to healthy foods in certain neighborhoods,” said Ms. Martinez. Others want to focus on the younger generation of consumers. John Graves cooks for children at the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center. He believes that if healthy vegetables should be introduced to children early on “and by the time they’re five, they’re not afraid of broccoli.”