With obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease on the rise, foodservice operations at care communities work daily to help people live healthier lives. Teaching kitchens are a way to expand that reach, all while educating people about how easy it is to prepare meals that are nutritious and tasty.
Think of a teaching kitchen as a real-life television cooking show. Gather people in your kitchen or makeshift demo area and teach them to make a fruit-based smoothie, a colorful salad or a protein-filled wrap. While people are having fun participating or watching, they’ll also be learning about food-buying practices, nutrition, food safety and prep skills.
“It doesn’t feel like a class, it feels like spending time in the kitchen with friends,” says Amy Gautraud, Manager of the Gordon Food Service Nutrition Resource Center.
The education component is important. As we move to value-based healthcare, health systems are financially incented to improve the health of their communities. Teaching healthy eating habits can have big health benefits. Improved nutrition has been shown to reduce hospital admissions and health costs.
Teaching kitchens can be conducted almost anywhere, such as the local community hall, library, church, farmers market, school or any other convenient location. The target audience can be anyone in the community, from patients and families to students, parents or even people from neighboring communities.
“The ultimate goal is to get on the preventative end of healthy eating,” Gautraud says. “The more you can do to educate people, the more you may delay or even prevent the diagnosis of a chronic illness.”
To help you, Gordon Food Service has created nine 30-minute teaching kitchen recipe demonstrations. Each one explains the ingredients and materials needed and a step-by-step guide to share healthy cooking tips.