Kids in the Kitchen is a global initiative of the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) that makes a local impact in a state that desperately needs guidance and support on healthy lifestyles. Louisiana consistently ranks among the unhealthiest states in the nation, and Kids in the Kitchen helps communities address the urgent issues surrounding childhood obesity and poor nutrition. The program is grounded in the belief that children and their families empowered with the knowledge of how to feed and exercise their bodies will be less likely to become obese and subsequently suffer many associated health risks. JLNO’s Kids in the Kitchen hosts educational events in partnership with local community organizations to raise awareness and involves children and their parents in a hands-on environment that focuses on preparing healthy foods. Events include engaging local chefs for cooking demonstrations, hosting fitness assessments with nutritionists in schools and community centers, and setting up tables at community events to demonstrate healthier alternatives to candy and other sugary snacks. Our structured activities not only provide a nutritional snack in a sugary sea of treats also integrate an art project and information on recipes, reading package labels, and finding healthy ingredients.
Kids in the Kitchen History:
- Inspired by the Junior League of Calgary’s Junior Chefs program, the Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen initiative began in 2006 with the goal of engaging kids in the preparation of healthy meals as a means to educate them and their parents regarding nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices. Junior Leagues in more than 200 locations provide lessons and demonstrations related to preparation of healthy meals and snacks in partnership with local community organizations, chefs, and nutritionists. JLNO started its program in 2007.
- In 2009 and 2010, JLNO partnered with the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB) to provide cutting-edge weekend culinary camps for school age children. The purpose of these free camps is to teach children healthy food preparations, preserve and teach Southern culinary techniques, connect food to its origin, implant concepts of freshness, and promote an understanding of the communion of food and traditions in our culture.
- In 2012 and 2013, JLNO partnered with the Second Harvest Food Bank’s afterschool supper program Kid’s Café, which provided a hot dinner to children five days a week. These meals were distributed through schools and community centers across the city.