Improving Diabetes Prevention and Management

Project Title

Cooking for Healthy Communities

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Improving Diabetes Prevention and Management

Date Awarded

April 1, 2010







New York City has significantly higher death rates from cardiovascular disease and diabetes—both of which have been linked with diet—than the United States as a whole. Within the City, low-income neighborhoods are disproportionately affected by preventable diet-related diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Tens of thousands of low-income people throughout the City rely on United Neighborhood Houses (UNH) member agencies for at least one—often their only—daily meal. These agency-provided meals primarily comprise heavily processed and prepackaged ingredients that are high in sodium, sugar, fat, transfats, and harmful preservatives. Free meal programs rely on processed food for several reasons, including cost, government reimbursement systems that favor processed ingredients, and limited knowledge of how to purchase and prepare fresh foods.

This project will provide support and training to UNH-agency congregate meal cooks to prepare healthy, fresh meals to New Yorkers living in the neighborhoods at greatest risk of diet-related diseases. The project employs: hands-on training for agency cooks in healthy menu planning and preparation; nutrition education with a focus on diabetes prevention; training on the administrative aspects of securing reimbursement from existing government funding streams; on-site support; and community nutrition education workshops. Participating cooks will be equipped with the tools and skills to train additional cooks through a train-the-trainer component. Between 50 and 80 cooks will be trained to improve the diets of approximately 14,000 people. The community education workshops are expected to reach between 460 and 1,000 individuals.