Eating Well While Doing Good: Recipe for Success

Several years ago, I retired from an accounting career and was looking for a place to volunteer. I followed Michelle Obama’s quest to get kids moving to address childhood obesity rates.  I did some googling for similar programs in Houston and up popped Recipe for Success.  

Recipe for Success was founded by Gracie and Bob Cavnar in 2005 with a purpose of combatting childhood obesity by changing the way children understand, appreciate and eat food, this is accomplished through several programs.  The hands-on curriculum, Seed to Plate Nutrition Education, takes place in local Houston elementary schools and includes kids growing, harvesting and cooking healthy delicious foods. The program introduces kids to taste and flavor combinations, techniques, and nutrition awareness, all culminating in feeling empowered to prepare healthy meals and snacks for themselves and their families. Over 30,000 children have participated in the program during the foundation’s first 10 years.  Volunteer opportunities include helping in the school kitchen and garden classrooms during the academic year.

Grilled Green Onions with Romesco
Grilled Green Onions with Romesco

Other initiatives like the VegOut! Challenge use a tracker or mobile app to entice kids and adults to eat their veggies.   You basically sign up then track yourself eating veggies 30 ways for 30 days.  You can get creative, adventurous and competitive with this challenge.  It gives you an excuse to serve some lesser eaten veggies like purple cauliflower, kohlrabi, Belgian endive, golden beets, and parsnips, just to name a few, to your family.  Try a different preparation like roasting, grilling or throwing them in a salad.

Hope Farms is the foundation’s latest venture.  The urban farm is located in Sunnyside, formerly considered a food desert because of the lack of groceries and farmer’s markets that offer fresh produce.  Hope Farms is just minutes from downtown Houston and integrates growing, education and community engagement on seven acres.  

Hope Farms Tomatoes
Hope Farms Tomatoes

The farm even offers farm shares.  I bought a farm share of tomatoes and I can’t even begin to tell you how much fresh flavor those babies packed.  

Chefs in the Field Summer Table
Chefs in the Field Summer Table

Candlelit dinner parties under the barn are taking place quarterly with local chefs offering courses centered around the farm’s bounty. I attended the inaugural Chefs in the Field Supper and it was spectacular – the freshness of the food and the unique ambiance can’t be matched anywhere in Houston.  

Grilled Whole Gulf Red Snapper
Grilled Whole Gulf Red Snapper

Lastly, day campers, scout troops, and school groups are learning about farming and healthy nutrition right at the source.  Volunteer opportunities include year-round planting, tending, harvesting and selling produce and special events such as the Earth Day festival.

Roasted Beet Borscht, Dill Crema, Pickled Squash Blossoms
Roasted Beet Borscht, Dill Crema, Pickled Squash Blossoms

Volunteering at Recipe for Success is fulfilling and meaningful to me.  Plus, it’s all about some of my passions – healthful, clean eating and chef driven events.  What’s your passion?  What’s your skill set?  Find an organization that gets you excited and needs your skills and go for it, girl!

Posted by: Suzanne Williams

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