PALO ALTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cooking is a powerful teaching tool. It’s interactive, engaging, and of course, deliciously rewarding. For decades, Bon Appétit Management Company chefs around the nation on corporate and university campuses have held cooking classes, showing adults everything from how to put together a simple, healthy salad dressing to how to roll sushi or make tamales. Last year, the company launched the Outdoor Classroom for Kids in the Garden at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Since then, more than 5,000 children from Boys and Girls Clubs, the YMCA, and other Bay Area groups have been introduced to the vibrant flavors and textures of garden-fresh produce in an interactive social setting. Now, as of July 2016, Bon Appétit has begun taking a blend of these two programs on the road.
Healthy Kids in the Bon Appétit Kitchen, the new nutrition and culinary education program, was created with the goal of empowering elementary school–age children to make healthy food choices for themselves and their communities. Pilot classes have been held at SAP, Adobe, and several other Bon Appétit client locations in the Bay Area with dozens more planned for the coming year.
“Seeing the program in action at AT&T Park just grabbed my heart,” said Bon Appétit CEO Fedele Bauccio, who worked with the San Francisco Giants to bring the Outdoor Classroom for Kids to life. “We’re really making a difference. Extending this program to reach more children just fits into what we’re trying to do as a company — to change our food system.”
Obesity now affects 1 in 6 children and adolescents in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Poor eating habits can have long-term effects on the body, including greater risks of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems, joint problems, and more.
Healthy Kids in the Bon Appétit Kitchen aims to address this. The four Bon Appétit Fellows, recent college graduates who act as education ambassadors for the company, and others will take a curriculum created by Community Development Manager Hannah Schmunk (who launched the original Garden at AT&T Park program), and fan out across the country to corporate and university locations. Working with the on-site chef and his or her culinary team, they will cohost a two-hour program for the children of the host client’s employees or kids from local community organizations (such as Boys and Girls Clubs). The hands-on lessons in gardening, healthy eating, and cooking will include:
- Playing a fruit and vegetable name game
- Touching, tasting, and smelling garden-fresh vegetables
- Learning about edible plants
- Cooking tasty, kid-safe recipes
- Enjoying a healthy kitchen picnic
Through these simple activities, participants become more comfortable trying new foods and can begin to shift their taste preferences toward fruits and vegetables. They learn the importance of “eating a rainbow” every day, and how easy it can be to transform whole fruits and vegetables into a healthy meal. By learning about the connection between what they eat and the ability to do what they enjoy, they go home with a newfound power to make better choices for their health.
Watch a short video of the Healthy Kids in the Bon Appétit Kitchen program.
About Bon Appétit Management Company
Bon Appétit Management Company is an on-site restaurant company operating 650-plus cafés in 32 states for corporations, universities, museums, and specialty venues such as AT&T Park, as well as several public restaurants including the famed Commissary in San Francisco. Bon Appétit chefs cook from scratch, including sauces, stocks, and soups. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs addressing local purchasing, the overuse of antibiotics, sustainable seafood, the food and climate change connection, humanely raised meat and eggs, and farmworker rights. It has received numerous awards for its work, from organizations including the International Association of Culinary Professionals, the James Beard Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Seafood Choices Alliance, and The Humane Society of the United States.