Providence Milwaukie Hospital Community Teaching Kitchen Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: The Community Teaching Kitchen (CTK) at Providence Milwaukie Hospital in Portland, Oregon, primarily serves a population in Oregon that is low-income, medically underserved, and significantly affected by chronic disease. The program, which opened in 2016, provides food and nutrition education to patients and community members. Services offered include food insecurity screening, access to a patient navigator for social services, food pantry services, culinary nutrition education, prescription gardening, and one-on-one nutrition counseling.   

How they do it: Services are available to patients and community members through provider, community-based, or self referrals. 

  1. Food insecurity screening: Providence and community partners utilize the Screen and Intervene model of identifying and addressing food insecurity in a healthcare setting. Providers are trained to assess patients for food insecurity and refer individuals and families in need to CTK resources.
  2. Patient navigator: Patients complete an intake form with a patient navigator, who will then refer the patients to CTK and other community resources based on their specific health and social needs. 
  3. Food pantry: The Family Market food pantry supplies individuals and families facing food insecurity with up to three days’ worth of dry, fresh, and frozen foods. Patients are able to “shop” for the nutritious foods that best fit their needs. Food is donated by community partners, and the market is run by volunteers and trained staff who collect donations, monitor inventory, and help patients find what they need.   
  4. Culinary nutrition education: Hands-on cooking classes and nutrition lessons promote self-sufficiency and agency among patients experiencing food insecurity. Classes are provided in English and Spanish and led by a chef and a registered dietitian. Attendees learn evidence-based nutrition information, cooking essentials and how to prepare affordable, nutritious meals. Healthy recipes and cooking demonstration videos are also available for public viewing on the CTK YouTube channel. Recipes are created by professional chefs, reviewed by dietitians, and approved by physicians. CTK also offers on-demand (on YouTube) and in-person classes on gardening, preserving food, stretching resources, and cooking for specific health conditions.
  5. Outpatient nutrition counseling: Nutrition counseling is offered in one-on-one and small group settings. A registered dietitian can help patients work through various health conditions and dietary needs, including weight management and disease risk reduction. 
  6. On-site gardening program: The Providence Milwaukie Hospital Garden of Giving is an on-site raised bed garden and orchard that produces more than one ton of produce per year. Providence has partnered with the local non-profit Growing Gardens to help coordinate sustainable growing practices, special events, and volunteer activities in order to optimize community engagement and production.

Mission: To inspire hope, healing, and health through nutrition education and culinary medicine.  

Major Funding: Providence Milwaukie Foundation

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $600,000

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: The Providence Milwaukie Community Teaching Kitchen is unique in that it incorporates both an on-site nutrition assistance program and a screening process to identify unmet social needs among patients. 

An observational study conducted by the University of Chicago and Providence from January 2016 to December 2022 concluded that individuals who utilized CTK resources at least once had significant improvements in blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight. These findings were most pronounced among individuals who engaged with CTK at least three times and had multiple unmet social needs (e.g. food, housing, transportation). 


Providence Milwaukie Medical Plaza
10202 SE 32nd Ave, Suite 101
Milwaukie, OR 97222

Core Programs: Teaching Kitchen

Number of staff: 8 CTK plus 1 gardening coordinator

Number of volunteers: 8 volunteers plus 12-15 medical students and interns per year

Areas served: Portland, OR

Year Started: 2016

Program Manager: Heidi Davis

Contact Information: Email: | Phone: 503-513-8064

Learn More:

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