Giving Good, Growing Good | By Nana Boateng | Nature’s Spoonfuls
Changing eating habits, one kid at a time.
Austin-based Common Threads was Founded by Chef Art Smith and artist Jesus Salgueiro in 2003, out of the belief that family and food have the power to nurture and strengthen us, to connect us to culture and community, and to teach and excite us about our world.
“Our world is a large quilt and its people are the fabric – colorful swatches of beautifully woven material – all joined together by these common threads: family and food.” – Art Smith, Co-Founder
By sharing the delight of cooking and delicious recipes, in conjunction with practical life-skills in health and nutrition, Common Threads is changing lives.
Through cooking and nutrition programs and curriculum, Common Threads aims to prevent childhood obesity and reverse the trend of generations of non-cookers, while celebrating cultural differences and the things people all over the world have in common. Common Threads brings a family-centric, hands-on program model with proven results to kitchens in low-income, urban communities across America. Common Threads‘ approach empowers children to eat healthy, make sustainable behavior changes, and celebrate culture through food.
One in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese, putting them at risk of both long-term health consequences and immediate health risks, including pre-diabetes; low self-esteem; bone and joint problems; sleep apnea; and social problems.
While obesity occurs across the entire population, low-income families are more likely to suffer from weight-related health problems due to the increased risk factors associated with poverty.
Low-income neighborhoods may lack convenient, affordable choices for fresh family-friendly food. When it’s easier and cheaper to pick up a meal at a drive-through than it is to trek out of the neighborhood to a grocery store for cost-prohibitive fruits and vegetables, the choice of what to serve for dinner has been made for you. Additionally, low-income neighborhoods often lack safe spaces for kids to run and play. Low-income families also experience high levels of stress and harmful cycles of food deprivation and overeating. This combination of factors puts low-income children at particular risk for obesity and the health problems associated with it. If we do not act now, our children will carry the health burdens of obesity with them into adulthood.
Partnering with schools in underprivileged communities, Common Threads offers in-and-out of school programs with a practical and “culturally relevant” approach to teach children/individuals and their families how to cook nutritious meals on a budget by working with what they have. Common Threads has programs in schools in Austin, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, DC and New York City.
“The most important thing I learned was to keep your plate ‘colorful.’ This means you should have a variety of healthy foods on your plate.” – Diego, Common Threads student
To learn more, donate or volunteer, please visit Common Threads.