USA Health has been admitted into a global network of 35 teaching kitchens, the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative (TKC), through a competitive selection process. The TKC is an invitational network of thought-leading organizations using teaching kitchen facilities and concepts as catalysts for enhanced personal and public health across medical, corporate, school and community settings.
“To be invited to join the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative is an honor and carries a significant responsibility,” said Robert Israel, M.D., one of the founders of the USA Health culinary medicine program. “We want to help people learn daily skills that positively impact their overall lives, in this case through learning cooking skills and good nutrition.
“The Gulf Coast is an area with a world of flavor but also a huge number of people affected by poor eating habits, including too much added sugar, too many processed foods and, unfortunately, foods that are devoid of nutritional value,” Israel added. “Changing that has been shown to improve people’s health and reduce disease.”
Founded in 2016 by David Eisenberg, M.D., the TKC connects innovators, including newly admitted USA Health, in partnership with the Culinary Institute of Medicine and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Culinary Medicine initiatives have been underway at USA Health for the past seven years, with hands-on teaching classes taught by Israel at Bishop State Community College through the USA Health Mitchell Cancer Institute (MCI) Cancer Control and Prevention Program. USA Health’s ongoing commitment to battle chronic disease and promote health, well-being and mindfulness, and providing educational programs focused on medical students within the USA College of Medicine and the USA College of Nursing earned USA Health’s acceptance in the TKC.
In addition to hands-on culinary medicine classes, USA Health has a demonstration kitchen in its University Commons facility, with another planned for the Mapp Family Campus currently under construction in Fairhope.
Members of the collaborative share best practices with each other to help patients learn how to make modifications in their eating habits to either prevent or alleviate diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer and more, and are encouraged to participate in collaborative research efforts to advance healthy lifestyles. Members include Cleveland Clinic, Northwestern University, Google, Inc., the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Stanford University, the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN) Foundation in Italy and others.
“Ultimately, our goal is to educate healthcare providers and patients, through evidence-based methods, on how to implement a healthier diet and its positive health implications,” Israel said. “For too long, ‘diet’ has had a negative connotation. We are looking at it from a holistic perspective and want to help people have a positive relationship with the foods they consume. All of this is designed to help people lead longer, better lives.”