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CookShop Classroom Featured by International News Network

by Carly Rothman Siditsky

Last year, more than 700 New York City public school classrooms participated in CookShop Classroom. the Food Bank’s federally funded nutrition education program for elementary-school students. Recently, one CookShop classroom in Brooklyn was featured in a report by a major international news network!

The report by Al Jazeera English shows how CookShop uses hands-on activities to get young children excited about eating nutritious foods, especially in low-income neighborhoods where access to healthy food is scarce. CookShop gives students the nutrition information and food-preparation skills to make healthy food choices on their own, and also offers complementary programming for parents and caregivers.

All of the training, materials, food and support needed to implement CookShop are provided to eligible public elementary schools free of charge. In a survey last year, 92 percent of participating New York City public school teachers said their students were making healthier food choices because of CookShop.

The Food Bank thanks PS 133K, the William Butler Academy, for being an outstanding CookShop school. Interested in bringing CookShop to your school? Learn more about the program and download an application!

Check out this video to see what makes CookShop so exciting:

Without School Lunch & Breakfast, Kids Need Summer Meals

by Roxanne Henry

Last week my nephew completed kindergarten, and began his summer vacation along with all the other children in the New York City public school system. It was an exciting week for sure, but also the week that hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren lost access to free and low-cost school breakfast and lunch. Instead of wondering which camp or summer activities their children should partake in, many of these families will have to worry about having enough food to eat during the summer.

As an aunt, I am very involved in my nephew’s life. Playing an integral role in a child’s development underscores the importance of alleviating harsh realities like child hunger. This reality makes my role as the Food Bank’s Community Outreach Manager so important: I advocate for better access to federal Child Nutrition Programs like the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP, or Summer Meals).

Recognizing that more children rely on emergency food during the summer, we work with the NYC Department of Education to recruit members of our citywide network of soup kitchens and food pantries to help provide summer meals at their sites. The Food Bank will support these sites by assisting with community outreach, developing activities to promote participation and providing additional program support. Our goal is to ensure that as many children as possible receive free summer meals, which are also available at schools, parks, libraries, pools and other sites across the city.

My hope is that, with support from the Food Bank and SFSP, New York City children will only have to think about where they want to play this summer, and not where their next meal may come from.

Better-Than-A-Picnic Picnic with Hebrew National & Mom Bloggers

by Heather Joseph

From top: The mom bloggers, Cheryl Hines and I show off our reusable canvas bags; Cheryl Hines talks about her commitment to hunger relief and her participation in the Better Than a Picnic picnic.

What happens when you combine a group of dedicated mom bloggers, Hebrew National hot dogs, Cheryl Hines of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Randall’s Island? You get a fun-filled day supporting both the Food Bank For New York City and Hebrew National’s Better-Than-A-Picnic. On Saturday, May 22,  NYC Mom Bloggers hosted the event that was chock full of fun. I was there on site to partake in the festivities and, of course, represent the Food Bank.

Randall’s Island served as a great backdrop. Families were everywhere, enjoying the beautiful spring day on the soccer field, softball fields and playing in the park. Hebrew National set up a wiener wagon serving up yummy, piping hot hotdogs. Cheryl Hines was on site, not only speak of her relationship with Hebrew National but to comment on her commitment to raising hunger awareness nationally. In addition to the hotdogs, this free, family-friendly event had a mechanical bull (screams fun, no?) and a station to decorate reusable lunch bags that were then donated to our Community Kitchen & Food Pantry of West Harlem.

And a point about these phenomenal mom bloggers! Gracious is not enough of a word to explain how engaging and welcoming they were. It started with Emily of who worked to ensure that I got there and back home safely — car service :*two major thumbs up.* Meeting her cohort of other mom bloggers meant hearing sincere enthusiasm for 1) being awesome moms and 2) working to install, at an early stage, commitment to helping others in need. These moms rocked!

The day served as a great way for all family members to gets involved in a great cause. Doing good, on a full stomach and learning about the Food Bank’s dedication to helping New Yorkers in need— what at great day.

By the way, Cheryl Hines is extremely sweet and not at all a TV show diva! She enjoyed learning about the Food Bank and even made a really cool reusable lunch bag.

Whether you’re a parent, a New Yorker, a foodie  or just someone who like to support conscientious people, we hope you’ll enjoy all of the great mom-bloggers who came out in support of hunger relief!

Amy O., Selfish Mom
Amy P., Long Island Parent Source
Anna, Mommy Poppins
Carol, NY City Mama
Cecily, Upper Case Woman
Isabel, Alpha Mom
Jen, Next Kid Thing
Kelsey, Naptime Chef
Kimberly, Mom in the City
Jo-Lynne, Musings of a Housewife
Lisa, New York Chica
Melissa, Girly Mama
Suzanne, Mom Confessionals 
Whitney, Mommies with Style 

Principals: CookShop Helps Students, Families Make Healthy Choices

by Katherine Mancera

As today is the last day of public school in New York City, it is a perfect time to reflect on an exciting year of CookShop, the Food Bank’s nutrition education program. Our workshops for children, teens and adults reached more than 15,000 people in all five boroughs, including students in more than 700 public elementary school classrooms.

Last year, in a survey of participating teachers, more than 97 percent reported their students more likely to try a new healthy food because of CookShop, while 96 percent reported their students want to eat healthier and 92 percent said their students are making healthier food choices because of CookShop.

This year, participating principals sent letters describing their CookShop success stories, and we were thrilled to hear their rave reviews. We’re especially excited that so many people involved with CookShop will continue cooking and eating fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains at home. Here are a few of their stories:

“CookShop became a catch phrase in our building, and the amount of enthusiasm it built among our teachers and students was amazing. The children in grades pre-K to second and in our special needs class learn to make healthy, nutritious recipes that they eagerly share with their parents at home. CookShop’s lessons have students readily eating vegetables in our cafeteria that my nutritionist and our parents have told me they were not eating before. It provides a bonding experience, a motivational tool and a new way of talking about food and nutrition for our teachers, our parents and our students.

“CookShop is an essential weapon in our healthy-living, healthy-eating fight to change the obesity rates in our school and in our neighborhood.”
—Harold Anderson, Principal, C.S. 21 – Crisups Attucks Elementary School

“Our cook tastes the recipes and is going to start serving [CookShop] dishes at lunch time. This program has not only taught our community about healthy eating, but it has brought our community together.…Parents are volunteering in the classroom and cooking with the staff.”
—Carin Ellis, Principal, P.S. 212 Queens – School of CyberScience and Literacy

“The teachers and students love the program. I just walked into a bilingual classroom and it was the first time they have seen cauliflower and collard greens. They were amazed with the texture.”
—Melissa Acevedo-Lamarca, Assistant Principal, P.S. 19 Queens

“This is the first year my school is participating in the program and we LOVE IT!!! My little kindergarten, first and second grade students enjoy Fridays when their teachers do the CookShop lessons. I often have a little visitor coming to give me a small sample of what they made in class. My kids are always eager to explain what they made and how they did it.”
—Vanessa Christenses, Assistant Principal, P.S. 48 Queens – The William Wordsworth School

“This Thanksgiving my family had a potluck and we all had to bring something. My sister, who teaches second grade at a school in the Bronx, surprised us with the three-bean salsa, which she too learned to make in CookShop at her school. This was full circle for me…CookShop is touching the lives of so many near and far. It makes me smile every time I think of my sister serving a CookShop dish at Thanksgiving because she knows we all need to eat healthier.”
—Dora Danner, Assistant Principal, P.S. 17 – The Henry David Thoreau School

As improving child nutrition becomes a national priority, the Food Bank is proud of CookShop’s success in moving children and families toward a healthier lifestyle — and is working to bring the program to more communities in need.

Katherine Mancera is the Food Bank's Public Education Associate. For more information on our CookShop program go to www.foodbanknyc.or/go/CookShop, or watch our CookShop video below:

After Surgery, President Bill Clinton Calls for Better Child Nutrition

by John Leggio

Former President Bill Clinton speaking at the Food Bank's 2009 Can-Do Awards Dinner; photo by Tran Dinh

Here at the Food Bank, we work to improve child nutrition because we know kids’ food choices can have lifelong health effects. Last week, at a press conference in Harlem, former President Bill Clinton said he learned that lesson the hard way.

After surgery for blocked arteries at NY Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center, President Clinton "weighed in" on the childhood obesity epidemic while speaking for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

“The root cause of this was habits that I acquired in my childhood,” Mr. Clinton, who also had a quadruple bypass operation in 2004, said.

Mr. Clinton (who spoke at our 2009 Can-Do Awards Dinner) also gave a shout-out to First Lady Michelle Obama for her “Let’s Move” campaign, which will tackle the obesity epidemic by helping families make healthy food choices, improving the quality of school food, encouraging exercise and increasing food access.

We’re working to meet similar goals through programs like CookShop, which encourages the development of healthy diets among New York City students and their families, as well as community outreach and advocacy on issues like universal school meals.

With work like ours — and similar efforts from a dynamic duo like the former president and the current first lady — maybe we can protect more children from the outcomes of poor nutrition.

NYC & EATWISE Pledge to Change One Thing

by Daniel Buckley

In July, the Food Bank launched the “Change One Thing” ad campaign, aimed at encouraging healthy eating among our city’s teens. While cheap, fast junk food seems to be everywhere, there is a common perception that eating healthy requires a wholesale lifestyle change.

Our ads promote the idea that you can lead a healthier life by Changing One Thing. Craving soda? Try water today. Skip those mini doughnuts this time and grab that orange! The Food Bank is also asking all New Yorkers to take our Change One Thing pledge – and help us move toward a healthier New York.

Our summer EATWISE students are taking the lead – read what they are pledging to change in their diets below. Great ideas!

Farhat Ludi
“One thing I can change is to avoid fast food and eat healthy food every day. Also I can do more exercise to be healthy in myself.”

Hajera Ahmed
“One thing that I could change is to stop getting fatty foods out. Now I am trying to eat health food. I think I’m changing.”

Solveig Nolasco
“I should eat more vegetables and less meat a day.”

Jean Tony
“One thing I changed was to stop eating McDonald’s.”

Asuka Li
“Change: eat more vegetables, less rice and meat. Change: run for at least 20 min every day.”

Tyree W.
“One healthy change I’ve made recently is drinking about 80 oz of water every day.”

Leroy Walker
“I could stop eating junk food every day and eat fruit every day.”

“One thing I can change about my diet is consuming more water instead of juice and soda. One change I have already made is changing my portion size.”

Don Snyder
“Shop at the green markets.”

“Stop drinking soda. Stop eating candy. Eat more breakfast.”

Celin Concepcion
“One thing that I could change in my diet is that whenever I go to the kitchen and get a snack I should get a fruit or vegetable, instead of donuts or chips and soda.”

My EATWISE Experience

by Sylvia Wu

My time at EATWISE (Educated and Aware Teens Who Inspire Smart Eating) over the summer of 2008 was an experience I will never forget. I learned valuable information regarding food and nutrition, such as micro- and macronutrients, diet-related diseases and hunger and poverty. We used what we learned to conduct nutrition-education workshops for elementary school students, and volunteered at places like the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen and Senior Food Program.

In addition to teaching about good nutrition and helping provide food to other New Yorkers, we had meals of our own every Wednesday, when we learned how to make healthy, nutritious food and snacks like maple almond granola.

EATWISE made me realize my passion for food and nutrition. I made many friends who helped make this my most memorable and unforgettable experience. Through all that we have learned and accomplished in this program, I know that I want to be a dietitian. I want to spread my love of food and nutrition, and the knowledge I have gained, to others who want to eat healthier, or who struggle with their weight. I want to impact others the way EATWISE has impacted me.

Summer Brings EATWISE

by Justin Crum

As the last days of school approach, we are gearing up for our summer EATWISE Program, which provides an opportunity for students to go considerably more in-depth with the topics we cover. We received a ton of applications, and are interviewing candidates. Students will be out in the community, working with food assistance programs, urban farms, and our Community Kitchen in Harlem. Two participants from last summer, Johnathan and Andrew, described their work at the Community Kitchen as such:

[In the Community Kitchen’s soup kitchen,] you help clean, prepare food, set up for breakfast and dinner, and after you’re done cooking, you can enjoy a meal with the other volunteers. All the produce there is fresh, and is prepared in the kitchen. Cleaning is the hardest thing but when you have help it becomes very fun.

Justin CrumWe try to help students connect what they are learning about nutrition to real-world situations. Working directly with community groups that deal with hunger gives students a context to explore what they are learning. Cooking always proves to be a wonderful outlet for their energy (but it certainly doesn’t hurt to get their hands dirty cleaning or working in a garden). Stay tuned for blog entries about EATWISE Summer 2009 from the students themselves!

Justin Crum is the Youth Development Manager for EATWISE, the Food Bank's CookShop for Teens program.

Happy Brooklyn-Queens Day!

By Daniel Buckley

Today is Brooklyn-Queens Day, a holiday known mainly for the fact that school is closed today throughout Kings and Queens counties. The holiday is so obscure that few remember what it’s for. “I’ve always felt superior because I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens,” says Jennifer Byrd, CookShop Classroom Manager. “It’s Kings and Queens county. I guess we’re just royal.”

Originating in “Rally Day” parades held by Brooklyn Sunday schools as far back as 1838, Brooklyn-Queens day was declared to be “celebrated in commemoration of the organization of Sunday schools” by a 1925 state law. Hearing this, our Community Outreach Manager, Roxanne Henry, who grew up between Jamaica (the island, not Long Island) and Brooklyn, replied “We’ll take it!”

Given the mainly forgotten origins of the holiday, we would like to take today as an opportunity to take a look at, and celebrate, Brooklyn and Queens.

Queens is the most diverse county in the US, with the biggest Peruvian, Chinese and Filipino communities in the city (to name just a few); the highest concentration of Indian- and Pakistani-Americans in the country; and a US Sikh population second only to California — and, in my opinion, NYC’s best food.

Brooklyn, the biggest and most populous of the boroughs, would be the fourth largest city in the US if it was still independent. Brooklyn has hosted the biggest battle of the American Revolution, Coney Island, Spike Lee and the irrepressible Marty Markowitz.

The Food Bank also sees a high degree of need in the two boroughs. Brooklyn has the largest number of food assistance programs. Queens has the biggest number of residents who are concerned they may need to turn to food assistance for the first time.

So whether you’re enjoying a day off, or just another excuse to praise your borough, we also hope you’ll take a moment to think of your neighbors in need.

p.s. Follow us today on Twitter to learn more about Brooklyn and Queens!

Our Emily

By Jesse Taylor

Emily is in her 80s and reminds me of my grandmother. While she is independent, I can see that she finds it difficult to carry the heavy, meal tray to her seat at the Community Kitchen, where I work. So I, or a volunteer, do it for her. Last night, Emily smiled and thanked me about a half dozen times. I just smiled back, grateful to be able to help.

Emily sometimes brings her six-year-old granddaughter to our soup kichen to eat with her, and she’s told me on more than one occasion how grateful she is that the Food Bank For New York City is here for her during this period of her life. Living on a fixed income of Social Security and a small pension, it’s difficult for her to meet her budget every month and without our soup kitchen, she say’s she wouldn’t be able to eat.

No one aspires to be impoverished and rely upon soup kitchen meals for day-to-day survival, let alone work their whole life to then find themselves on a food pantry line — but with the economy the way it is, there are more senior faces in the Community Kitchen's dining room than ever before. So many Emilys with nowhere to turn but the Food Bank's network of soup kitchens, senior programs and food pantries.

But for our Emily there is good news. Recently came to the Community Kitchen —  this time to be enrolled in the Food Stamp Program (now known as SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). And, while I’ll miss her visits, it’s great to know that once she begins receiving food stamps, we won’t be seeing much of Emily in the Community Kitchen anymore.

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