Huntington’s Kitchen Still Going Strong!

Huntington’s Kitchen Still Going Strong!

Tue 29 Oct 2013

Story by Huntington’s Kitchen
 

When Jamie Oliver left Huntington, West Virginia, following the filming of the first season of “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” in the fall of 2009, he issued a challenge to the people of Huntington – “Keep the revolution alive.” And any way you look at it, Huntington is meeting that challenge head-on!

Healthy changes made to the Cabell County Schools Lunch Program are still in effect – school cooks there are now spreading what they’ve learned to cooks in other county school systems across West Virginia – and Huntington’s Kitchen, Jamie’s base of operations in downtown Huntington during filming, is still going strong, continuing to provide free or low-cost cooking and nutritional instruction to the community.

In fact, Huntington’s Kitchen is now being managed by Cabell Huntington Hospital, which has been the facility’s primary financial backer since the beginning of operations at the kitchen.

“Fewer and fewer people today cook their own meals," said Doug Sheils, director of strategic marketing at Cabell Huntington Hospital. “We need to bring cooking back. We're hoping to get people excited about cooking for their families, because in most cases, it’s healthier. And in many cases, it can be less expensive.”

Cabell Huntington took over management of Huntington’s Kitchen after Ebenezer Medical Outreach (EMO), which had operated the kitchen the previous four years, decided to focus more on its core mission of providing health care services to Huntington’s underserved population. Over those years, EMO provided healthy cooking instruction to hundreds of residents of the Huntington area.

“We plan to continue the great work EMO started and expand upon it to reach our goal of improving the health of our community through the prevention and reduction of diet-related disease by enhancing access to healthy food and cooking education,” said Sheils. “We will also use Huntington’s Kitchen to conduct free health screenings, community meetings and fun, food-related events.”

Cabell Huntington Hospital has made a number of physical improvements to the facility, including the addition of a state-of-the-art audio/visual system to expand and enhance educational and event opportunities at the kitchen.

To manage Huntington’s Kitchen, the hospital hired educator and business professional Joy Dalton, who taught restaurant management in the nearby Putnam County Schools system for eight years. She has a master’s degree in business administration. Dalton is currently assembling a team of volunteer educators from Marshall University, Mountwest Community College, area restaurants and other parts of the community to teach cooking classes and offer cooking demonstrations.

“This kitchen is about changing the culture of food, the mindset, the habits,” Dalton said. “People are indicating they still need to know what to buy at the grocery store and what to eat if they have diabetes or are trying to lose weight. We can provide that kind of valuable information at Huntington’s Kitchen and, hopefully, improve the health and quality of life for the people of our region.”

Cabell Huntington purposely chose to keep the name “Huntington’s Kitchen” in an effort to encourage the Huntington community to take ownership of the kitchen and to actively participate in its outreach efforts. To further that cause, the hospital assembled a community advisory panel consisting of dietitians, nutrition educators, chefs, business leaders and community activists to provide oversight and direction for the kitchen.

“We're listening and getting lots of great ideas from this community advisory panel,” Sheils said. “We want this kitchen to address the community’s needs and to offer the kinds of programming that the people of Huntington want.”

About the Author: To learn more about the many fun and affordable educational offerings and events at Huntington’s Kitchen, you can visit its website, send an email to Joy.Dalton@chhi.org, or call the kitchen at 304.522.0887.

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