We believe that the best way to combat health disparities in our community is to empower people to take charge of what they eat by teaching students to cook for themselves, to understand where their ingredients come from, and to make healthful food choices. Take Back the Kitchen is Haley House’s progressive culinary arts and health education program, developed at Haley House Bakery Café in Roxbury’s Dudley Square neighborhood. We teach adult, side by side, and youth classes in our professional kitchen. We educate our students about food and its connection to health through a series of professionally led, hands-on culinary lessons. Our classes are vegetable-focused (though not completely vegetarian), and emphasize cooking from scratch, trying new foods, and understanding both the personal and social impacts of how we eat.
Our mission is to empower our students with hands on culinary skills and health education to make the healthful, sustainable food decisions that combat growing health disparities in our community.
ABOUT OUR PROGRAMS
Our program began when local police sergeant and gang awareness educator Bill Baxter combined forces with Chef Didi Emmons to teach youth the importance of eating healthy foods and keeping an open mind both in the kitchen and on the streets. Now, in addition to offering our continuing Cultural Awareness class with Officer Baxter, we offer daily after-school classes to youth of all ages that cover topics in health, food choices, and food systems. These classes reach over 350 youth annually. Youth classes take place Monday through Fridays, in two-hour sessions after school; classes are usually about 6 weeks long. You can read more about our youth curriculum on this website.
After bringing parents into our classroom as part of a side-by-side parent/child cooking class, we realized the increasing demand for adult health and culinary education as the complex world of nutrition becomes increasingly difficult to navigate. Adult classes cover pertinent topics such as healthy eating, effective and economical food shopping, and nutrition for families and children. We also teach the “Healthy and Safe Cooking” course through Urban College of Boston.
In Summer 2009 TBK resident farmer and curriculum manager Kelly Dunn led a pilot program of educational trips to Haley House’s own Noonday Farm in Winchendon Springs, MA. Students tended their own garden under the guidance of farmer Beth Ingham, and learned about the importance of cooking with fresh ingredients, how the global food system works, and the power of fresh air and open space. Our current garden manager, Carmine Leighton, is busy with community gardens at the McKinley School in the south end, and in Roxbury’s Fort Hill neighborhood.
Special Events and One-Time Classes
We are happy to participate in outreach activities throughout the Roxbury and Boston communities, with workshops and demonstrations at special events. We also host one-time classes in our kitchens on weekends and evenings. Contact us for information!