CookShop: Successful, Sustainable and Enjoyable

June 09, 2010

New York City, one of the richest and innovative cities in the world, is also home to about 1.3 million who rely on soup kitchens and food pantries daily to feed their families.

New York City, one of the richest and innovative cities in the world, is also home to about 1.3 million who rely on soup kitchens and food pantries daily to feed their families. In addition, the number of New Yorkers experiencing difficulty affording food has doubled to around four million since 2003. Food poverty, a characteristic of many low-income neighborhoods, is a result of a lack of access, inability to afford nutritious foods (because of chronically stretched budgets), and a higher prevalence of low-cost, low-quality foods which ultimately leads to high concentrations of diet-related health conditions. So what is the city that never sleeps doing about food poverty?  And why might New York City's poorest know more about nutrition than most? One word with excellent results: CookShop        
CookShop, a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsored program has served as the core nutrition education program of the Food Bank for New York City since '94. CookShop gives low-income New Yorkers of all ages cooking skills, nutrition information, and fosters enthusiasm for fresh, affordable fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. The program includes interactive workshops, lesson plans for school children aged 6-12, parent and guardian programs to keep them in the loop about what their children are learning; as well as EatWise, a high school based program where teens are trained to become peer educators and then go on to lead community and classroom workshops. CookShop's programs engage more than 15,000 New Yorkers across all five boroughs, as well as promote healthy, informed eating through social marketing campaigns targeted at over 100,000 youth.

The NYC food bank conducted a survey of 700 CookShop teachers. As reported by FoodNavigator, ninety seven percent said their students were more likely to try new healthy food and had improved nutrition knowledge; ninety six percent said their students were more interested in healthy eating as a result of the program; and 92 percent said their students made healthier food choices. Clearly, kids are willing and excited to try new foods and learn; especially if the tool is right, and CookShop seems to have hit the nail right on the head.

The NYC food bank's president and CEO Lucy Cabrera told FoodNavigator: "Education is the best path out of poverty, but when children are poorly nourished, they don't perform as well in school. CookShop improves their food choices and inspires families to come together around the kitchen table for healthy, affordable meals." A statement in line with the Koodies ( vision, of having kids and their parents come together, learn about and embrace food. 

So as we continue to search for the 'magic' answer, create and test new programs that vary by state, school district, etc, with the hopes of eliminating obesity, CookShop has proven effective, sustainable and enjoyable by participants and facilitators alike. so why are we still searching?
To learn more about CookShop visit Food Bank for New York City.