Yale New Haven Health Teaching Kitchen Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

What they do: The Irving and Alice Brown Teaching Kitchen at Yale New Haven Health (YNHH)’s Digestive Health Center merges culinary expertise provided by professional chefs with nutritional advice from dietitians to make food a part of health care. The kitchen, which opened in August 2023, provides free culinary medicine classes for Yale New Haven Health patients. Participants work with a chef and registered dietitian to learn how to make healthy meals that support medical conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease.

In the near future, classes will also be offered virtually to patients who do not have access to transportation, and YNHH hopes to set up a food truck that would bring culinary medicine to other communities. 

How they do it: YNHH providers refer patients to the teaching kitchen. There are no eligibility requirements, and classes are offered to patients at no cost. Currently, the classes have a general health focus, but as the need grows, the teaching kitchen hopes to offer condition-specific classes as well. 

Chef and dietitian Max Goldstein leads the classes using the Health meets Food curriculum. Each class is approximately 2.5 hours long and includes an introductory video about health, a knife skills demonstration, hands-on cooking (1 to 1.5 hours), eating, and a wrap-up conversation. Goldstein and two or three volunteers are available throughout the class to answer questions and provide culinary and nutritional guidance. During the cooking portion of the class, participants are split up into groups to prepare various parts of a meal. When the cooking is finished, participants present what they have made, and everyone has a chance to taste the food in a family-style meal.

Classes are currently offered weekly for up to 12 patients per class. 

In the future, the kitchen plans to partner with a medical director to offer continuing education for healthcare providers and classes for medical students. These classes would be more academic, requiring students to read a case study before attending and including a more focused lecture rather than a casual conversation. 

Mission: To enhance participants’ health and to improve the well-being of current and future generations.

Major Funding: Private donations 

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: n/a

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect health: YNHH’s teaching kitchen is unique in that it is tied into an entire health system rather than just one hospital or university. Therefore, the kitchen has the potential to reach a large patient population and a considerable number of providers who are excited to give referrals. The kitchen is also set up to live-stream classes in the near future, so that patients without transportation will still be able to take advantage of the classes. 

FACT SHEET:

Locations: 
Yale New Haven Health
8 Devine St
North Haven, CT 06473

Core Programs: Teaching kitchen

Number of staff: 1

Number of volunteers: 7-10 

Areas served: New Haven, CT

Year Started: 2023

Program Managers: 
Max Goldstein, MS, RDN, CCMS, Chef
Amy Ralph, MS, RD, CNSC, CSO, CD-N
Joseph Mendes, PA-C, RRT, MS, Executive Director of Digestive Health Clinical Program Development

Contact Information: teachingkitchen@ynhh.org 

Learn More:

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