After working in after-school programs myself as a bilingual Spanish teacher and feeling dismayed by curriculum limitations, I was seriously impressed by the versatility and dynamic structure of RFS classes. In RFS classes, learning to cook a simple recipe becomes so much more than that by engaging and challenging students to work well in groups, think critically about math and science (fractions, ratios, mixtures, etc), and to explore nutrition in a fun and meaningful way. One of my favorite volunteer moments happened one afternoon while I was cleaning up dishes after class. Our last student of the day had returned to class with his mother because he had forgotten to pick up a copy of the day's recipe. Typically a quieter student, he suddenly burst to life recounting the day's lesson to his mother including details of the ingredients, what purposes they served, and how to replicate the meal with other similar ingredients. Seeing my astonishment, the mother proceeded to tell me that her son, as a result of RFS, had taken to helping her in the kitchen both with meal planning and actually cooking their meals. What once was a simple class time activity was becoming a passion for this child as well as a bonding experience for him and his mother.
Whittier Elementary has started the second year working with Recipe for Success. Our first year it began as a small after school program serving 20 students. The program was such a huge success that we have expanded it to five days a week from 4:00-6:00 serving Kindergarten through Third grade students. It is the most popular club in our after school program. The Chefs are amazing! Not only do they get students involved in cooking they teach them the importance of eating health and making good choice. The cooking classes also maintain two garden beds where they use the herbs that they grow. Our community is 98% with an average of 60% second language learners. I have been so impressed with the English Language development that has occurred through cooking. Our students are engaged, working cooperatively with their classmates, and having a ton of fun. Recipe for Success plays a huge part in the vision of the campus. I am thrilled to work with them.
Recipe for Success is a wonderful organization. I am glad that we are partnering with them to bring a healthier way of thinking about food to our school. Last year we partnered with Recipe for Success to help us build our school/community garden and to implement their "seed to plate" program at our school. The call of teaching our students, staff and parents healthy eating alternatives was answered by the collaboration with Recipe for Success. In a little over a year, students have grown vegetables with their own hands, shared them with families and in the Recipe for Success after-school program, some students have learned to cook and eat more vegetables and fruit. For some students, many of the vegetables they have cooked, they have never eaten before or even seen before. Recipe for Success has even partnered with us to judge our school's annual Chili Cook-Off and introduced the career of chef to our students during Career Day. Our students and staff have been included in Recipe for Success's wonderful contests that encourage one to think about the choices they are making concerning the nourishment of their body. The testament to their great work is when we started Recipe for Success this year, the waiting list for the membership has more than doubled our capacity level. I even talked with a disappointed parent yesterday because her student is still on the waiting list. I even have students stop by my office daily to see if a space has become available. If there is one thing I could change about Recipe for Success (and we are trying to find a way for next semester) is to have more students experience the Recipe for Success after-school program. Currently, we can only host 20 students per semester and we would love to expand that number. The skills and information that the students and staff learn are invaluable. This education inevitable spills over into the families and eventually the community as a whole. Thanks Recipe for Success for a job well done.
I love to see the joy in eyes of the kids as they try new foods and learn the techniques to cooking. The classes are very well organized and teach the kids the food groups, reading labels, and the reasons fast food and prepared foods are not good to eat.
They also have a community garden at the school so the kids can experience growing and eating their crop.
RFS provides a unique opportunity for disadvantaged youth to learn about gardening and cooking with hands on experience with some of the top chefs in Houston. The program is staffed with exceptional foodies who love introducing students to a healthy appreciation of growing, harvesting and preparing nutritious food. There is nothing like it in our area. It is very cool to see young kids who've turned up their noses at green vegetables to get excited about eating their own cooked broccoli. The program is so important to this population who have a steady diet of fast food. The founder is a brilliant marketer who has established a strong support base of people who are concerned about childhood obesity and the value of teaching children to live more healthy lives.
Each time I have the chance to see kids in action in the RFS classroom, I know that Recipe for Success is making a life changing difference in children's lives. To see their faces light up and hands raise to chop, peel, mix and stir is such an enlightening experience and makes you think about how the simple act of cooking can create such happiness. My hope is that the children take these lessons home and ask their parents to interact more with them in the kitchen and really create a family dynamic of togetherness that may not have existed before. You see reluctant kids try all kinds of fruits and veggies that some have never seen before and it is hilarious and inspiring. Recipe for Success classes not only teach children how to garden, cook and eat, but it also teaches them how to share, how to work as a team and how to use their imaginations with healthy, good food.
I am a Board Member and Volunteer for this amazing organization that is truly making a difference in the way children, their parents and community understand food and nutrition. By teaching basic nutrition, cooking, and gardening, this program is making a lifelong difference for people who live in communities who may not have access or understand the mental and physical benefits of good nutrition.
I love helping in the fourth grade classrooms as kids learn how to make a salad from plants they have grown in their school garden. Recipe for Success does not stop there though, as they teach kids how to use manners at the table, how to budget for food shopping, how the body needs vitamins and minerals. They have writing contests for the children. There is math, literature and science along with a happy kid with a full belly. What more can you ask for?
Recipe for Success began with the mission to eradicate childhood obesity and its attendant health problems. Almost 50% of Texas 4th graders are at-risk or overweight— especially African-American females and Mexican-American males. Gracie Cavnar, in an amazing example of “mission to action,” spent ten years researching the problem and developing best practices. She then took personal responsibility for staving off this epidemic by starting a foundation with her own funds. With great tenacity and drawing upon her vast reservoir of community contacts, she built an impressive base of support and, in record time, she and her team implemented a pilot program serving five Houston Independent School District schools in at-risk communities. The program proved to be such a success, that it is now being considered for further expansion in Houston and even nationally.
Serving elementary-aged students via a classroom cooking project, it is a unique, fun, and effective way to teach children the facts about food and nutrition by learning how to cook their own meals from seasoned, professional chefs. Proven teaching methods are incorporated which involve math, science, social studies and reading, in addition to the cooking of meals. Gracie recruited and enlisted the help of many of Houston’s premier chefs — everyone from Robert del Grande and Randy Evans to Monica Pope is involved — and to see these chefs “teaching by doing,” interacting with a class of eager and excited fourth graders, is one of the most inspirational sights.
In addition to Houston’s top chefs, Recipe for Success also has various medical professionals, City and County commissions, an impressive band of volunteers, and various corporate sponsors behind it. All of this has been accomplished in record time thanks to the steadfast resolve of its “birth mother” Gracie Cavnar and her determination to save the health of Houston’s children.
My child went to public elementary school and I was appalled at the food he was given. In the beginning they had real cooks and real food, but eventually those women were laid off in favor of more institutional fare that was a very poor substitute. That's when I became interested in Recipe for Success--they are a much needed organization in Houston, and they do a great job.
RFS is a very serious cause and is all about science, nutrition and facts.... and yet, it is so much more! Some might doubt RFS's seriousness because it concerns itself with something we all tend to take for granted...our habits around the food we eat. Yet, our collective habits and psychology around food and nutrition have gone awry and our nation and, especially our young people, face catastrophic consequences if healthy choices aren't made quickly.
The impact of this great organization is hard to convey in words. With a generation of young kids at greater risk for health problems early on due to eating habits, the need for this foundation is priceless to our community at large. This organization fills a void in our society. This void is the lack of knowledge that our children receive about food in general. Basic information reagrding where food comes from and how it can be prepared is what this organization provides for children. All children should be aware of the importance of eating healthy and essentially this is what this organizaiton provides.
I love Recipe for Success! The programs not only impact the children's individual lives, but also contribute to a healthier, more sustainable community. Changing our world to less consumerism and more organic choices is great in my mind!