Healthy Teaching Kitchens Lead the Way to Cooking Confidence
In 2010 the VA received a grant to establish Healthy Teaching Kitchens (HTK) at eight VA facilities. The idea was inspired by the Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA) approach to providing nutrition education. The Healthy Teaching Kitchens provide an interactive, hands on approach to teach healthy cooking habits and lifestyles changes to Veterans.
Each facility puts their own spin on the HTK concept. Some purchased mobile cooking carts that can be set up in clinic waiting rooms to teach healthy cooking options while patients wait to be seen by their providers while others designed more formal cooking classes that patients can register to attend. All of the programs are developed to provide practical skills to help Veterans eat healthier while teaching food safety and ways to cook economically.
In 2011, the HTK concept expanded even further when four VISN Nutrition Consultants were selected to assist in the implementation of Healthy Teaching Kitchens at additional facilities. Take home handouts are provided as well as simple recipes that can be made at home. Family members are encouraged to participate as well. Pre and Post tests are administered to determine the level of knowledge gained. Veterans in remote locations can be involved through video streaming.
Additional Healthy Teaching Kitchens are planned for the near future with the intention that eventually all VA facilities will provide opportunities for Veterans to learn that eating healthy can be easy, inexpensive, and enjoyable. The VA has also partnered with My HealtheVet as another means to for Veterans to get involved with HTKs through recipe contests and online nutrition information.
If you are interested in learning more about VA Healthy Teaching Kitchen please contact the Nutrition and Food Services Department at your local VA.