The American Heart Association (AHA) teamed with Maui chefs during the Hawaii 2016-17 school year to give Lahaina-area students and their families a taste of better eating.
Childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past 30 years as the result of a caloric imbalance, where too few calories are expended for the amount consumed. Obese youth are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease along with other chronic health issues.
To help reverse the trend of obesity among children, the American Heart Association developed the Kids/Teens Cook With Heart program to teach elementary, middle and high school students how to prepare healthy meals as a way to embrace a healthier lifestyle. Studies show that youth who are involved in preparing their own meals are more likely to eat nutritious foods, and more fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the program gets kids excited about trying new foods, and encourages them to share this passion with their own families at home, thus expanding the program’s reach.
The program was made possible thanks to a generous grant to the AHA by the Saunders Family. This funding will enable us to teach students the basic skills required to prepare their own meals at home, as well as the information they need to make healthier choices. It boasts a special curriculum designed to meet the needs of Lahaina-area families, align with the Hawaii public schools’ syllabus, and embrace the native and traditional foods in Hawaii. The AHA, together with West Maui’s own Chef Paris Nabavi, who volunteers his time to the program, recruits and trains other West Maui chefs who volunteer their knowledge, passion and local flavors to the classroom.
The Kids Cook With Heart program, which reached 365 students this year, is making a profound impact in the Lahaina community, and inspiring a new generation of healthy eaters. Click on the video below to see highlights from the last year’s Maui Kids Cook With Heart programs and events.