FamilyCook Productions: Teaching Kitchen Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon

What they do: FamilyCook Productions develops teaching kitchen curricula for students of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. The program started when its founder, Lynn Fredericks, a food and wine writer at the time, unexpectedly became a single mom of young children. She noticed how important it was to spend time cooking together as a family and saw that cooking with her kids changed their willingness to eat a wider variety of vegetables and nutritious foods. As a result, she decided to shift her career focus to culinary nutrition education and founded FamilyCook Productions. 

FamilyCook curricula are used nationwide for remote and in-person nutrition and culinary education in various settings including schools, community-based organizations, farmers’ markets, health departments, early childhood education centers, and WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) sites. All of FamilyCook’s curricula are evidence-based and field-tested. Fredericks and her colleagues have completed extensive research on what drives behavior change in teaching kitchens. 

Available programs include:

  • Nibble with Willow (preschool): With the help of a bunny puppet named Willow, parents and children learn about seasonal foods that grow in Willow’s garden and prepare quick and easy snack recipes that include fruits and/or vegetables. 
  • Look Who’s Cooking (elementary): School-aged children spend 15 weeks learning about healthy lifestyles and various cultural approaches to cooking with fresh ingredients. 
  • Teen Battle Chef (middle/high school): Adolescents spend a semester building sustainable, healthy behaviors. Topics covered include culinary and knife skills, public speaking, nutrition, hygiene, teamwork, goal-setting, and food presentation. 
  • Cooking Time is Family Time (families): Weekly sessions help families build relationships by working together to prepare and eat more healthy, home-cooked meals. 
  • Food 360 Farm-to-Fork Job Training (youth development and job training): A four-week intensive session teaches culinary skills and food preparation, food harvesting, and composting. Participants are introduced to various careers in the food industry and assisted in obtaining an internship.
  • Farm Fresh and Fabulous (farmer’s market education for shoppers): Educational sessions are held at a farmers’ market table. Shoppers learn nutrition basics, knife skills, cooking with fresh, seasonal produce, and engaging kids in cooking. 
  • CHEFS for Change (healthy retail): Corner stores and small groceries undergo a “makeover” to promote healthy foods. 
  • Deliciously Healthy (adults with chronic disease): Cooking classes provided via Zoom teach participants and their families how to incorporate healthy, delicious meals into a chronic disease management plan. 

How they do it: FamilyCook uses a train-the-trainer model to implement its curricula. Interested organizations must contact FamilyCook to begin the training and licensing process. At least two instructors must complete the Certified Culinary Educator Training Program, which is conducted via a combination of remote and in-person sessions and costs $450 per person. No prior culinary or nutrition experience is required to become a certified instructor. The program covers culinary skills, food safety and hygiene, nutrition basics, recipe demonstrations in front of an audience, collaborative recipe preparation, and program management. The training process includes:

  1. Approximately 2.5 hours of remote learning, with Program Goals, Basic Culinary Intro, Food Safety, and Family Nutrition modules online.
  2. Full-day hands-on culinary and lesson practice. Training for the preschool program is an exception and can be completed online in a half-day session. For organizations based in NYC, hands-on trainings are conducted by a FamilyCook dietician, chef(s), and youth development specialists, along with a chef instructor. Organizations outside of NYC can complete the full-day training virtually. A dietician and a chef from FamilyCook also lead the virtual training. 
  3. A one-hour program management webinar. 

After at least two instructors have completed the training, schools and organizations will be licensed to receive the FamilyCook curricula. The license agreement costs $400. Cookware for FamilyCook programs is sponsored by Circulon, and each licensee receives one set of cookware worth approximately $600. FamilyCook licensees also have access to a discount from Oxo. Organizations do not need a fully-equipped kitchen to operate the program.

Upon request, FamilyCook can also provide participating organizations with evaluation tools to help them measure the impact of the program. 

Mission: To bring people of all ages together around delicious, affordable, fresh food in order to positively impact health and well-being.

Major Funding: Robin Hood Foundation, Whole Cities Foundation, the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation 

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: $500,000

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: FCP’s curricula have been replicated in more than 300 sites across 30 states, influencing more than 310,000 individuals nationwide. Among adolescent Teen Battle Chef participants:

  • 77 percent maintained improved dietary habits for up to 7 years post-program
  • 80 percent achieved and sustained a healthy weight for up to 7 years post-program
  • School attendance, grades, and graduation rates increased. 

FACT SHEET:

Location:
330 East 43rd Street, Ste. 704
New York, NY 10017

Core Programs: Teaching kitchen program design, nutrition education curriculum development, professional development

Number of staff: 6

Number of volunteers: 6 Board members

Areas served: Nationwide

Year Started: 1995

Founder: Lynn Fredricks 

Contact Information: https://familycookproductions.org/contact-us/ | Phone: (212) 867-3929

Learn More:

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