Bella Cuisine Kids Cooking Club

March 31, 2013  • 

Chicago-based Bella Cuisine Kids Cooking Club’s mission is to teach and encourage children to make healthy eating a part of their daily lives and to combat childhood obesity within the community by encouraging families to cook from scratch and decreasing food-related health issues. Their vision is to build a sustainable, grassroots effort to reduce obesity by focusing on prevention beginning in early childhood.

The organization’s philosophy is based upon preventing childhood obesity, rather than just treating the symptoms. The Bella Cuisine Kids Cooking Club is offered as an in-school and after-school program for children ages 6-17 and especially focuses on serving at-risk youth. Throughout the school year and summer, students are provided a healthy meal or snack that they learn to prepare themselves, taught by local chefs who volunteer their time to travel throughout the community. These professional chefs guide young chefs through each healthy recipe step-by-step and provide them with “chefs’ secrets” to making healthy food irresistible. Meanwhile, teachers are provided with curriculum resources focusing on increasing physical activity, reducing screen time, improving nutrition/food choices and overall health and wellness for students. The organization also keeps parent/caregivers involved with supermarket trips via Share Our Strength’s Shopping Matters guided grocery store tours.

In addition to cooking, students plant school and community gardens with fresh and dried herbs and seasonal vegetables, enhancing school and community dynamics by reflecting health, unity and beauty. Each student plants seeds and tends to the gardens; once it is time to harvest, students create meals using the fresh ingredients and are allowed to take what they wish home to their families, and all remaining food is donated within the community.

After participation in the Bella Cuisine Kids Cooking Club, students and teachers have reported increased physical activity at home and school. Students are more focused and motivated during class time, achieve higher test scores, improve school attendance and display more positive attitudes. Students and their families have shown increased physical activity levels, improved nutrition and food choices, enhanced communication and fewer sedentary activities.

Visit the Bella Cuisine Kids Cooking Club website to see how students and their families are learning to make healthy eating a part of their daily lives and combating childhood obesity within their communities.