New York City Mayor Bloomberg and Rachael Ray Announce New Programs to Promote Healthy Eating

May 13, 2010  • 

(New York, NY) — On May 13, 2010, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Rachael Ray announced a series of initiatives to help New York City’s youth eat healthier and understand where their food comes from. The new programs, supported by Rachael Ray and her Yum-o! organization, will help schools build a garden or connect them to an existing garden and provide cooking and nutrition instruction to young New Yorkers. The announcement was made next to the vegetable garden at PS 29 in Brooklyn, which the school is using to teach students about healthy eating – in addition to enhancing science and nature curriculums. 

A website with more information about the New York City-based programs is available, here; in addition, you can find a variety of similar nationwide programs in the How Cool is That?! section of the Yum-o! website.

"School gardens encourage more young New Yorkers to eat healthier diets and help them understand where their food comes from," said Mayor Bloomberg. "From GreenThumb gardens to public housing gardens to countless community gardens, so many New Yorkers are greening our urban landscapes and greening their diets too. Our partnership with Rachael Ray will help children understand how eating fresh food and preparing their own meals can help them to lead longer, healthier lives."

"We are very excited to form this public-private partnership with Mayor Bloomberg to help teach New York City youth where food comes from and in turn provide them with encouragement to make healthier choices," said Ms. Ray. "In addition to empowering kids to cook and have a healthier relationship with food, these programs will also allow us to show kids how the culinary arts can be a positive career path, which is one of the major goals of our Yum-o! organization."

"Teaching children about healthy eating and where our food comes from is just as valuable as teaching them how to read and write," said Council Speaker Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "Thanks to groups like Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! organization, GrowNYC and GreenThumb, we are educating more and more New York City children everyday about the importance of nutritious eating and how and where to grow their own healthy food."

Gardens provide educational opportunities regarding nutrition and cooking, which can have long-term health benefits. Studies show when children grow and prepare their own food, their understanding of the relationship between food and health grows too. Studies also show that positive eating habits begun before 6th grade are more likely to last into adulthood. 

"The school garden initiative is not only teaching our children about the importance of healthy eating, but it’s also providing them with fresh and delicious school-food options," said New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein. "And the gardens aren’t just about eating well. Research shows that school gardens are excellent learning environments and students exposed to them do better on science exams."

This spring, a new "Learning Garden" was also constructed in City Hall Park to show children first-hand how food is grown. The garden, which is currently growing snow peas, cabbage, kale, lettuces, kohlrabi, onions and broccoli is being tended and used by PS 276 and PS 397 located in the adjacent Tweed Courthouse building. "Learning Gardens" have also been created at Randall’s Island and Gracie Mansion, where children from the Stanley Isaacs Community Center have been growing vegetables and receiving cooking instruction as part of "The Growing Place" project.

Also with support from Rachael Ray, the City is launching cooking and nutritional pilot programs at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) campuses this summer and fall in partnership with the Sylvia Center and Children’s Aid Society. The goal of these programs is to help young people develop cooking skills, become conscientious consumers and make healthier food choices. In addition, an afterschool program at NYCHA specifically for youth ages 16-24 will promote not only healthy nutrition, but also introduce food service and culinary arts as potential career paths. This population is a target demographic of the Mayor’s Center for Economic Opportunity, which seeks to provide youth with innovative education, career exploration and job training programs.
 
"We commend New York City and Rachael Ray for a private-public investment in school gardening and food education that will improve the health of our children and New York State agriculture," said State Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker. "When children grow food and become aware of the importance of local agriculture, we expand opportunities to serve locally-grown foods in schools and most importantly, we increase student consumption of healthy produce."

The projects announced today enhance the existing work done by Ms. Ray with the NYC SchoolFood program to create exciting, delicious and nutritious lunch menus for 1,600 NYC public schools, serving 1.9 million students, On April 28, 2010 Ms. Ray launched her latest SchoolFood menu item called "Cheesy Mac and Trees," a healthy take on traditional macaroni and cheese, filled with whole wheat pasta, real cheese, skim milk, red bell peppers and broccoli florets.

About Rachael Ray and the Yum-o! Organization
Rachael Ray is best known as the host of the Emmy Award winning daytime television show, Rachael Ray, as well as through her popular Food Network shows. She is also the author of bestselling cookbooks, has a lifestyle magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and her own line of Rachael Ray cookware, knives and food ingredients. In 2007, Rachael launched Yum-o!, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering kids and their families to develop healthier relationships with food and cooking. Yum-o!’s three work areas include educating kids and their families about cooking, feeding hungry American kids and funding cooking education and scholarships. For more information about the Yum-o! organization, please visit www.yum-o.org.

Photo credit: Edward Reed

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