More than 50 Chicago-area mothers and their children participated in the Chicago Sky’s second-annual #LetsTalkFood event, powered by MeridianHealth, a WellCare company.
Dedicated to educating Chicago’s youth on the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle, #LetsTalkFood welcomed families to Kennedy-King College’s Washburne Culinary Institute in the city’s Englewood neighborhood on Saturday for an afternoon of interactive nutrition lessons and hands-on cooking demonstrations.
“We found that it’s really important to make sure that as kids are celebrating the holidays, they have healthy food options that they can enjoy and also use as a bonding experience with their families,” Chicago Sky Vice President of Marketing Partnerships Watchen Nyanue said. “One of MeridianHealth’s primary objectives is to make sure that people are being healthy all-year round, so this is a fun way to provide families with the necessary tools in hopes that healthy living becomes a 365-day activity.”
Acclaimed Chicago chefs Gabriel Alvarez and Nichelle Benford led the program, first discussing with the students the ways to make healthy eating choices in their everyday lives before teaching them how to craft their own delicious and nutritious meals at home.
“MeridianHealth was excited to again work with the Chicago Sky on this event,” Meridian Manager for Marketing Outreach Terrence Wright said. “Eating right has a direct impact on our overall health and we are glad we could help Chicago families have better, healthier lives through healthy eating “
The families worked alongside the chefs as they made and enjoyed their own dishes, including Vietnamese papaya salads and turkey lettuce wraps.
“Based on my own personal experience, I think that it is really, really important for kids to learn how to cook healthy [meals] and to eat healthy at a young age,” said Chef Alvarez. “When I was nine years old I was diagnosed to be clinically obese. I was a nine-year-old weighing as much as a light adult! My doctor told my mom flat-out that if she wanted me to be around for a while that we needed to change my eating habits … My mom then taught herself how to make food that was [not only nutritionally better], but tasted better, and that’s when I realized that good food doesn’t have to be boring. And I learned that at a young age, thanks to my mom.”
Chicago-area mothers were given the opportunity to attend the free event with their children through local groups Hustle Mommies and the PRIMO Center.
“Seeing all of these little kids running around, having fun, cooking alongside of their mom is something that means a lot to me because that’s exactly how my mom taught me and introduced me to cooking,” Alvarez said.