From Our Team
Posted on September 8, 2023 by Jana Renner
Common Threads, a national nonprofit with programming in El Paso, equips communities with the knowledge and skills to make healthy food choices with hands-on culinary and nutrition classes. These classes become even more vital when we consider that approximately one in five children in the U.S., ages 2 to 19, suffers from obesity – a concern made worse following the pandemic. As September marks National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, it serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address and combat the escalating health challenges faced by our youth. Committed to investing in the community’s health, Paso del Norte Health Foundation (PdNHF) partners with Common Threads to emphasize that healthy eating not only promotes optimal growth and development in children but also serves as a frontline defense against the rise of childhood obesity and the related health complications, such as type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Common Threads delivers evidence-based programs focusing on nutrition basics and hands-on classes that develop cooking skills and empower children to prepare and enjoy healthy foods. These classes provide a unique opportunity for children to engage with food, fostering a positive relationship with healthy food from a young age. Children are more open to trying new foods if they help prepare them. Children learn about the importance of balanced nutrition and are better equipped to make informed dietary decisions. Recipes provide healthy substitutions based on taste and cultural preferences and are affordable for families. Children prepare meals together, taste their creations, and share them with their families.
Common Threads current grant with the PdNHF is a 2-year grant in the amount of $448,889 to implement Small Bites sessions, Family Cooking Classes, Cooking Skills and World Cuisine, and Caregiver Workshops.
Small Bites, a Healthy Snacks Nutrition Education Series, teaches PreK-8th grade students nutrition and healthy snack-making through a series of eight hands-on lessons.
Cooking Skills and World Cuisine, a chef-led advanced student cooking program, engages 3rd and 8th-grade students by exploring ten countries’ cultures and cuisines. This Common Threads Chef-led program challenges students to use various cooking equipment and ensures they know how to safely and effectively use each tool, including chef’s knives, graters, peelers, stoves, and ovens. Graduates of this program can cook a balanced healthy meal.
Family Cooking is offered in an after-school setting. This chef-led class teaches parents and children how to cook healthy and affordable meals. The course focuses on family participation, healthy ingredient substitutions, and convenient cost-saving recipes. The FCC aims to teach families how to cook together and incorporate healthy habits at home while maintaining their traditions.
I have been to the classes and have seen the pride that children have in preparing the meals and showing their parents after class.
The Common Threads programs have served more than 15,000 El Paso County students, parents, and educators since 2017 with partial funding from the Health Foundation.
In a US House Meeting last month, Rep. Glenn Thompson spoke on the House floor, recognizing Common Threads as champions of nutrition education and healthy cooking.
“Since its inception, Common Threads has reached more than 550,000 students and more than 103,000 adults with more than 4.3 million snacks and meals served throughout the country,” Rep. Thompson said.
The Health Foundation invites you to learn more about Common Threads and their impact on healthy eating habits among students and families at commonthreads.org and their Facebook page, Common Threads.
PDNHF Priority Area: Healthy Living
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