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Spotlight Nonprofit: Connecting children with healthy eating in “bite-sized” lessons

LatinaLista — There are two parts of the battle against childhood obesity — teaching children and their families which foods are healthy to eat and how to cook healthy foods.


It’s the second part that is proving more difficult in slimming waistlines. Most people have a pretty good idea which foods aren’t high in sugar, starch or calories but no one wants to eat a totally raw food diet.

The problem is they don’t realize that they don’t have to eat only raw food to eat healthy. That’s where Common Threads comes in.

At Common Threads, low-income children learn to cook wholesome and affordable meals. The belief is that through hands-on cooking classes childhood obesity can be prevented and it can reverse the trend of generations of non-cookers, while celebrating cultural differences and the things people all over the world have in common.

Students learn basic kitchen skills, cooking techniques, and the importance of fresh ingredients as they prepare healthy ethnic cuisines together. Chef Instructors incorporate nutrition tips and cultural information into lessons that teach students how to connect with their bodies, their neighbors, and their world in a healthy way.

Classes are offered in 10-week sessions throughout the school-year — fall and spring. Classes meet once per week and are free to students who qualify for free or reduced school lunches.

Common Threads currently provides programs in sixteen different Chicago neighborhood locations, four in Washington, D.C., four in Miami, and two in Los Angeles.

The program has been such a success in teaching kids about healthy eating that the nonprofit has recorded that 82 percent of Common Threads’ students limited their junk/fast food intake to one or fewer times per week and 70 percent ate more fruits and vegetables after taking the classes.

To bring the experience to more families, Common Threads has produced a cookbook titled Eat the World: Good-for-You Food for Families. The recipes in the cookbook are the same ones taught to the children who take the hands-on cooking classes and all the recipes are both nutritious and economical.


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