FWCS Students learn about healthy cooking

More than 2,000 Fort Wayne Community Schools seventh graders now understand essential nutrition and cooking concepts, thanks to the Our HEALing Kitchen for Kids program. 

HEAL stands for Healthy Eating Active Living and is an initiative of the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Parkview Health. A grant from the Indiana Department of Health provided the opportunity for FWCS middle school students to take part in the HEAL program and learn skills such as cleaning, chopping and preparing fresh produce. During six class periods, students practiced cooking skills and worked together to create recipes such as veggie quesadillas and pumpkin pancakes. 

“We have done some cooking and nutrition classes previously, but they were after school. This is nice because not everyone can take an after-school class and this is a way to expose all our students to important nutrition information,” said Mary Hess, director of Health and Wellness for Fort Wayne Community Schools.

“One of the Foundation’s four priorities focuses on ensuring that all residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable, have access to fresh, nutritious food and know how to prepare and enjoy it,” said Meg Distler, executive director at the St. Joe Foundation. “We are grateful to Fort Wayne Community Schools and their teachers who worked so hard to bring this important information into the classroom.”

The St. Joe Foundation and Parkview Health also offer HEAL classes for adults. Since 2016, more than 2,600 residents have participated in HEAL classes at churches and non-profits across the community. Mary Tyndall, food and nutrition program director at the St. Joe Foundation reports, “Surveys show that participants increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat, as well as increase confidence in their cooking skills, after taking the classes. That is a win for overall health and everyone in the community.”