Culinary Health Education for Families (CHEF): Teaching Kitchen Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: Culinary Health Education for Families (CHEF) is a program based in San Antonio, TX, that uses a train-the-trainer model to offer culinary health education programs to inspire healthy eating habits to children, adults, and healthcare professionals. 

  • CHEF Little Bites is available for schools to offer to students in pre-K through second grade and sets a foundation for healthy eating and involvement in the kitchen.
  • CHEF Bites School Edition can be provided to students in kindergarten through eighth grade, and is designed to increase their confidence in the kitchen and broaden their taste preferences. 
  • CHEF Sports Nutrition is for sixth through eighth graders and teaches students how to properly fuel their bodies for an active lifestyle. 
  • CHEF can also be implemented in community settings including after-school programs and summer camps for children and through community-based organizations or online for adults. 

How they do it: Schools and organizations that are interested in implementing CHEF classes can contact the program, and CHEF will train staff members and provide the necessary tools and mentoring to support the program in various settings. 

The school programs can be offered as hands-on classes or as demonstrations in the classroom, a physical education class setting, an after school program, or an early childhood program. Schools can choose recipes that do or do not require cooking, depending on the resources available to them. The CHEF Bites curriculum includes 12 modules that take approximately 60 minutes each to complete. 

Community-based programs for kids include a nutrition lesson and cooking demonstration, with the option of allowing participants to sample the prepared recipe at the end of class.

The primary focuses of the children’s curricula are:

  1. Eat a healthy breakfast
  2. Drink plenty of water
  3. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
  4. Eat mostly plant-based, less-processed foods
  5. Cook and eat at home. 

Adult-focused programming may highlight various topics such as diabetes management, brain health, and anti-inflammation. The courses have four 60-minute lessons, each of which includes a nutrition overview and cooking demonstration with hands-on participation. 

CHEF curricula were developed by a team of registered dietitians, culinary professionals, and curricula specialists.

Mission: To drive healthy eating among children and families by promoting nutritious food and home cooking as key ingredients in the recipe for life-long health and wellness.

Major Funding: Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and the Goldsbury Foundation

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: Not disclosed

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: Since 2019, CHEF has reached 106,000 children in 238 schools and partnered with 34 organizations. After completing the program, students report an increase in healthy breakfast and fruit and vegetable consumption, increased confidence in the kitchen, and reduced sugary beverage intake. The program has been endorsed by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Diabetes Association.  



CHRISTUS Children’s (formerly Children’s Hospital of San Antonio)
333 N. Santa Rosa St.
San Antonio, TX 78207

Core Programs: Nutrition education, teaching kitchen

Number of staff: 7

Number of volunteers: 5 (board members)

Areas served: San Antonio, TX

Year Started: 2014

CEO: Suzanne Mead Feldman

Contact Information: 

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