Scaling and Sustaining The Teaching Kitchen Across New York State
Healthy Food, Healthy Lives
June 15, 2022
Each year, millions of meals are prepared and served by nonprofit organizations in New York State across a variety of settings, including senior centers, homeless shelters, public hospitals, and childcare centers.
The clients served by these programs experience greater health inequities and food insecurity than the general population and, most recently, have been hardest hit by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2015, Lenox Hill Neighborhood House (LHNH) launched The Teaching Kitchen, a training and technical assistance program to help nonprofit organizations convert their food services to a farm-to-institution model by serving more healthy, fresh, and local food—without raising costs. The program, offered for free, is a nuts-and-bolts course for those who design menus, order supplies, and prepare food. Participants receive a step-by-step manual, follow-up site visits, kitchen consultations, and recipes, as well as one year of virtual technical support. NYHealth has supported LHNH in its efforts to scale up the program, with grants in 2018 and 2019. Since the start of the program, The Teaching Kitchen has trained more than 350 nonprofit staff members from 170 programs serving 13 million meals annually. More and more institutions are eager to source more local, healthy food, but are unsure how to begin. In 2022, NYHealth awarded LHNH a grant to further support the statewide expansion of The Teaching Kitchen.
Under this grant, LHNH will partner with statewide food hubs and farmers to address their challenges and identify opportunities for partnerships with institutions looking to source healthy foods from these suppliers. It will train new nonprofit providers and schools using The Teaching Kitchen curriculum, directly impacting 20 million nutritious meals. LHNH will cultivate relationships with new and existing statewide partners to advocate for farm-to-institution programs. It will also leverage data from large institutions, such as school districts, to show the successful impact of farm-to-institution interventions. As part of the expansion, it will develop a sustainable business model for the program, including diversifying revenue streams and embedding the training model in government-funded programs.