Throughout December, the American Heart Association, Richmond Public Schools Engagement Office, and Chef Ray Britt brought together students from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School at the Market at 25th to ignite a passion for cooking. Through hands-on cooking experience, students increase their knowledge and healthy cooking habits, empowering them and their families to live longer, healthier lives.
Chef Ray, owner of Solefood RVA, is a facilitator of the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart (SCWH) program, the goal of which is to increase confidence in cooking at home. His motto is, “Spread love however you can. I chose food.” Increased confidence from learning simple, heart-healthy recipes can last a lifetime. The Simple Cooking with Heart curriculum includes 10 healthy, budget-friendly recipes and culinary and nutrition lessons. Students develop skills like chopping, dicing, mixing, and learn tips for incorporating new foods and making favorites heart healthy. Participants take home the meal they created as well as recipes, shopping lists, and nutrition lesson recaps. Chef Ray was featured on Richmond’s WTVR speaking about the program and the importance of nutrition.
In Richmond, approximately 18% of households experience low food access. Increasing community access to healthy, affordable food as well as increasing knowledge and cooking skills is critical for sustainable health improvements. Without access to affordable, healthy food, a nutritious diet and good health are out of reach. As a result, diet-related illnesses, especially among children, are on the rise. This generation of children will be the first to have shorter life expectancy than their parents, unless we make a drastic change.
Eating healthy is one of the easiest and smartest ways for individuals to take control of their health. Unfortunately, too many Americans consume too many foods high in saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium, and they eat too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, placing them at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. The Simple Cooking with Heart program aims to work with communities to learn about the importance of healthy diets and that you don’t have to be a chef to create nutritious, heart-healthy meals your family will love.
For American Heart Association recipes and tips for eating healthy, visit heart.org/eatsmart.