October 2012 Archives

RFS in Oct Issue of Edible Austin

Lauren Ballard
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edible austin.jpgThe winner of Recipe for Success Foundation's 2012 Mayors Award: Champion of Food Justice, Farmer Brad Stufflebeam, owner of Home Sweet Farm, gets applause from Edible Austin in their Fall/Winter  Issue.  Follow this link to the full article and plan to congratulate Brad in person at the November 19th Blue Plate Special Awards Lunch being held at the Houstonian Hotel and Spa.

CultureMap Salivates Over Our VegOut! Throwdown for FoodDay 2012

Gracie Cavnar
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foodday.jpgJust in from Sarah Rufca @CultureMap.com . . . "Pass the (sweet) potatoes:  World Food Day serves up a healthfully delicious chef competition.     Crowds at the City Hall Farmer's Market got an unexpected treat on Wednesday when Recipe for Success threw its second-annual Veg Out! Throwdown, featuring some of Houston's best chefs and delicious local veggies." 

Read the whole story here.

Badgley Mischka Charms Fashion Crowd at Dress for Dinner, leaving @CultureMap's Shelby Hodge cooing

Gracie Cavnar
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Dress for Dinner series chairs Cerón and Todd Fiscus of Dallas presided over the party that saw an exceptional turnout of Pretty Young Things.  Read the entire story and see the photos here.

Recipe for Success Foundation Welcomes New Board Members

Lauren Ballard
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Seven new members have joined our Board of Directors:  Allison Esenkova, Lisa Helfman, Dr. Deanna Hoelscher, Paula McHam, Lisa Mellencamp, Dr. Melanie Mencer-Parks, M.D. and Genevieve Patterson -- bring a valuable diversity of professional perspectives and interests to the RFS mission as they serve their first term through 2015.

Ms. Esenkova, Chief Strategy Office and Partner with management consulting firm Sense Corp, tackles tough strategy, process and technology hurdles as she manages global teams.  Ms. Helfman is the Director of Real Estate Services for Texas Children's Hospital, playing a pivotal role in the strategic placement of operations throughout the greater Houston community.  Dr. Hoelscher focuses on child and adolescent nutrition as the John P. McGovern Professor in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and director of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas School of Public Health in Austin.  Dr. Hoelscher will also take the reins as Chair of the RFS Science Advisory Board. 

Ms. McHam is director of Cigna Healthcare's Client & Community Affairs in South Texas/Louisiana and promotes collaboration between business and local health organizations.  Ms. Mellencamp is General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Constellation Energy Partners LLC, a public oil and gas production company, and serves on the Mayor's Advisory Council on Health and Environment for the City of Houston.  Dr. Mencer-Parks, voted one of the "Top Doctors in Houston," holds a private family practice in the museum district and is a regular guest commentator on 97.9 The Box "Medical Minutes" radio show.  Ms. Patterson is a healthcare industry systems consultant in Houston and former Division One Collegiate Athlete at Vanderbilt University.

For full bios of all our board members and staff, see  https://www.recipe4success.org/boardmembers.html

Recipe for Success Foundation Co-Hosts FoodDay Panel

Recipe for Success
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Let's Talk School Lunch!
Mark your calendar and join us

Thursday, October 18th
from 4:30 until 7:30

John H. Reagan High School
413 East 13th Street
in the Houston Heights

School Garden Tours by students of Reagan Eco Club

Movie Screening of "Whats on Your Plate?"
A student documentary presented by Urban Harvest Youth Gardening Education

6:15 p.m.                    
School Lunch Update
a panel discussion moderated by Beverly Gor, project director CanDo
    With panelists:
    Gracie Cavnar, founder of Recipe for Success Foundation
    Brian Giles, director HISD/Aramark Food Service
    Bettina Siegel, editor The Lunch Tray
    Juliet Stipech, member HISD School Board
    Christine Sullivan,COO of Revolution Foods

Weighty Matters

Recipe for Success
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This op-ed by Recipe for Success Founder, Gracie Cavnar appeared in The Houston Chronicle on Sunday, October 19, 2012. . .

Put down that cheeseburger and wrap your brain around this:  A recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation projected that half of all adults in the U.S. will be obese by 2030. To make matters worse, the RAND corporation (who was the first to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union) just declared the collapse of the American waistline with the news that the number of morbidly obese in this country has doubled since 2010.  Obesity has now replaced smoking as the number one health hazard in America.

These trends aren't just alarming--provoking unprecedented rates of chronic diseases striking at early ages, and expensive--obesity is expected to cost U.S. taxpayers and businesses $370 billion by 2030, they are dangerous, too.  Our generals report that 25% of American military recruits are unfit to fight, critically impacting our national security.

Texas is one of the fattest states:  According to the CDC, over 30% of Texas children ages 2-5 are already either obese or overweight.  We know that obese children tend to become obese adults, but we also know that in most cases obesity is preventable.  No one would knowingly put a child's health at risk, but the sad truth is that many of us are unintentionally doing that everyday.  Our kids deserve better, and it's time we do something about it.  And by we, I mean all of us--government, parents, educators and the private sector--working together.

Mayor Annise Parker and the Houston City Council understand the gravity of the situation all too well, which is why I was encouraged by their recent launch of the Healthy Houston Task Force.   The group is charged with educating Houstonians to recognize, prevent and treat obesity; address changes in the built environment to support healthy lifestyles; make affordable, healthy food more accessible; promote worksite wellness; and teach children and their families healthy habits.

Without a doubt, a child's most influential teachers are parents, so critically important lessons about healthy living begin at home: Turn off the TV, video games, computers and smart phones to take a regular family walk and give your kids unstructured time to play outside.  Add more fresh vegetables to family meals and involve your kids in grocery shopping, gardening and cooking. Like the old saying goes:  The family that cooks healthy meals together avoids Type II diabetes together.

Our kids spend most of their day in school, which should be a centerpiece of healthy living.  HISD and other districts deserve credit for getting school lunches in line with new federal nutrition standards--a step in the right direction, but more is needed. What good is a healthier menu when students can grab an ice cream sandwich for lunch instead or have unlimited access to vending machines?  Let's get the junk out and the good food in. Period.  No PE? We should demand it and nutrition education to boot. But most importantly, our educators need to walk the talk.  You are our children's roll models.

Did I mention how much this crisis is weighing down our wallets?  Health care for obese citizens cost 42% more than for normal weight ones.  But even more breathtaking, is the $190 billion the epidemic cost American businesses in 2010.  Businesses focused on worksite wellness enjoy more productive employees and reduced insurance costs, so programs that support preventive measures like exercise and healthy lifestyles are win, win, win, since the benefits filter down to the entire family.

Hooray for good corporate citizens who extend their healthy lifestyle culture by encouraging employees to volunteer in school wellness efforts.  Hundreds of folks from top Houston businesses like SenseCorp and PricewaterhouseCoopers have helped my foundation, Recipe for Success, build gardens and kitchen classrooms in elementary schools across the city where we have taught 20,000 children about healthy food hands-on and given them lifelong skills to make good decisions.  Countless other efforts like Urban Harvest and the Food Bank benefit from corporate partnerships as well.  But there is so much left to do.   We all need more hands and support to effectively reach Houston's one million children.

We have a choice to make as a society:  We can do nothing and watch as an entire generation grows from obese children to obese adults, becomes chronically ill and dies young, costing billions of dollars in health care and lost economic activity, and leaving the country without a battle-ready military.  Or, we can say, "Enough is enough." 

I think that if Houstonians set our sites on a goal, anything is possible. Our Mayor, City Council and the Healthy Houston Task Force are saying, "Enough already! Let's fix this problem."  I'm on board to do everything I can to make a difference, and I hope you are too. 

So, what are you serving the kids for dinner tonight?

Read this editorial in The Houston Chronicle archives, here.

Kids Who Cook are Hungrier for Healthier Food Choices

Recipe for Success
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picforblog.jpgWhen we designed our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education curriculum, we were motivated by early studies showing that children who garden eat healthier meals, and that children who cook make healthier food choices. We figured, that if kids cooked and gardened the effect would be compounded.  Sure enough, we are seeing that 5-12 year old students who participate with Recipe for Success for one school year are averaging a 30% increase in fresh fruit and vegetable consumption.

Here are the latest scientific findings that reinforce the reasoning behind our work:  http://t.co/8L5jZYIl

Volunteer of the Month: Priti Vakil

Lauren Ballard
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Priti Vakil
Nine years ago, Priti ventured into the kitchens of the International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Houston and hasn't looked back since. She earned her second degree in Culinary Arts at night while working as a Senior Enterprise Account Executive in the IT and Communications field by day.  In 2005, she graduated and, soon after, started a family. These days, Priti still works at Verizon Enterprise Solutions during the day and explores culinary pursuits in the evenings and on weekends. Her husband and two sons reap the rewards and health benefits of Priti's culinary training.

Priti is drawn to the Recipe for Success mission and has hopes of taking it transcontinental. Her long-term dream is to return to India with her family and to impact the eating and nutrition education of a few small communities in the central region of India in the state of Gujarat.

Priti discovered Recipe for Success through a friend at her local moms' organization, Bellaire Young Mothers. Soon after, Priti became a dedicated volunteer and supporter of the RFS.  She has played an active part in practically every aspect of Recipe for Success. First, she became a member of the Spice Guild and a volunteer at Rodriguez Elementary. She loved helping children learn how to make healthy decisions. Now, due to her schedule, most of her volunteer work centers around evening events like Small Bites and Dress for Dinner.  Priti looks forward to returning to the classroom and gardens as soon as she has a few free hours in her daytime schedule.

When Priti is not playing her role as Senior Account Executive, spending time with her family, volunteering her time at RFS events, she is reading, traveling, cooking or doing some combination of the three. This April, Priti and her family went to Italy and took classes with the local farmers and families. They learned to cook fresh, regional Perugian dishes including pizzas, pastas and desserts that require minimal ingredients, optimal flavor and come from the local farms.  Priti was amazed at how these farmers practice everyday what we are trying to teach our children here in the States: local fresh produce with simple ingredients and simple techniques.