A very special dinner will benefit Recipe for Success Foundation, and give guests a sneak peek at Canopy. $175 per person, read the entire invitation and book your tickets here.
Sam Kass is our advocate within the White House. Go Sam!
Excerpted from a story about the RFS Chefs in Schools program by Isabel Cowles
For years, Houstonians have flocked to t'afia and Café Annie to enjoy the cuisine of award winning chefs Monica Pope and Robert Del Grande. Since 2006, many lucky 4th grade students have also enjoyed their culinary talents through the innovative, RFS Chefs in SchoolsTM. The initiative brings forty-seven high profile Houston chefs into 4th grade classrooms to teach the students healthy, delicious recipes that anyone can make. Chefs Advisory Board members share an essential element of human experience, according to Del Grande, "Cooking is a skill for life, and most kids today are not getting that at home."
When RFS founder, Gracie Cavnar first broached the subject with Monica Pope in the 1990s, she thought the idea to create cooking and gardening programs across HISD was idealistic--perhaps to a fault. "I thought, 'who would ever try to tackle food across Houston public schools?'" Pope explained, "You're dealing with thousands of kids who just want to eat McDonalds."
But when Cavnar eventually showed her a binder full of detailed research on the value and necessity of a program that encourages healthy eating through cooking and gardening, Pope was convinced. She helped Cavnar recruit most of the other Chefs Advisory Board members and has taught in the program since its inception. Recently, one of Pope's first students brought her family to t'afia for dinner and thanked Pope for her inspiration. "It was amazing to see a food barrier broken," Pope explained. "Experiencing a simple recipe can reach and transform kids' eating for the rest of their lives."
For Robert Del Grande, the program has been equally convivial. The former college professor employs a unique approach to cooking with kids: "You've got to cajole them the way they cajole you," he explains. "I teach them that, if you like food, you should know how to cook it, and you should know how it grows." To pique the interest of a new class might mean starting with baked French fries and homemade ketchup, inspired by potatoes and tomatoes from the school garden.
Del Grande weaves in lessons he sees on classroom blackboards during class, like using fractions, talking about food origins and geography, or cutting quesadillas into geometrical shapes. Most importantly, he likes to instill a sense of achievement. "It's important to show kids that they can cook, which is both liberating and empowering. They get freedom to make their own food choices and freedom from processed foods. Creating something edible leaves kids with a great sense of accomplishment--I can really see that." by Isabel Cowles
At our showcase schools, 3050 children are cooking with Chefs in Schools™ and gardening every month during the school day and waiting lists fill fast for spots in Eat This!™ & Kids Dig it!™ after school programs and summer camps. We are the largest sustained effort of this kind in the country. Now we have turned our sights on the 40+ Houston area schools and districts that have waited patiently for us to expand. We are exploring the right fit for them--one that will be sustainable and effective for the whole campus. In the coming year, we also look forward to working with the City of Houston Health Department to implement Kids Dig It!™ and Eat This!™ After School and Summer Camps in their Community Centers, reaching a whole new population. Dozens of other centers and schools are making plans now to instigate various facets of our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ programs in the coming year and beyond. Parents and educators are so enthusiastic about our results, that they feel confident in securing the funding required to launch their own RFS program.
In the meantime, RFS will continue to grant our core Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ to Briscoe, Gross, NQ Henderson, Mac Gregor & Rodriguez, where we have already spent over $1million dollars to establish, test and develop the concept, but we are anxious to share with the nearly 100 folks who have contacted us from across the country. So our new RFS Program Guide will be launched in July 2010 with a Summer Seminar for educators to be trained and certified.
We are deeply grateful for the ever-growing ranks of chefs and volunteers who have discovered the joys of lending a hand in our classrooms and gardens, and the support and collaboration of many others. Numerous awards and recognition have come our way and the national spotlight has begun to seek us out as we model a highly effective approach to the epidemic of childhood obesity with tools that can travel anywhere. We are heartened by the extra attention that first lady Michelle Obama has brought to the issue and we look forward to leading more and more children, parents, and educators down the path to healthy eating through fun interactive lessons in the kitchen and garden.
Come join us anytime!
Gracie & the Recipe for Success Team
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The children were delighted when they returned to their Recipe Gardens to dig huge sweet potatoes, with which they soon will be making muffins. They met their chefs, got their new aprons, which of course had to be decorated and personalized, and learned the rules of the kitchen. Then they skewered a colorful fruit kabob and mixed up fresh blueberry yogurt dipping sauce.
For many of our volunteer Chefs, this is the fourth year in the classroom. Monica Pope and Randy Evans at MacGregor, John Sheely at Rodriguez and Peter Garcia at Gross have been lending their expertise in the classroom every month since 2006. This year twenty other of Houston's finest chefs are joining them.
Recipe for Success Welcomes volunteers and encourages you to come see for yourself how our tactics of making healthy eating fun are changing the way children eat for life.
Tell us what you would like to do to help.