The Junior League of the City of New York’s C.H.E.F. (Cooking and Health Education for Families) committee empowers families to make life-long healthy choices by teaching proper nutrition and physical activity while placing an emphasis on planning, collaboration and fun. Workshops are held in a variety of locations throughout New York City and are specifically focused on the city’s most vulnerable residents. The program offers a five-week certificate program that consists of education about healthy breakfast, lunch, snacks to prepare on the go, dinner, and a healthy dessert, and a graduation celebration. Weekly cooking workshops are supplemented with exercise activities such as yoga, jump rope, and dancing, as well as tutorials on healthy living and decision-making. Several times a year the program host large events such as Healthy Kids Day, for families to enjoy nutritious food while having a good time.

Community partners

  • Green Chimneys
  • Grosvenor Neighborhood House YMCA
  • Nazareth Housing
  • Women in Need: Jennie Clarke Residence

How it works

C.H.E.F. works with community partners to serve families hot meals on a weekly basis using a five-week workshop program. At designated community agencies, groups of five to seven volunteers provide an overview of the program and conduct the first cooking demonstration and interactive exercise activity. Over the subsequent four weeks, instruction addresses a variety of meals and ingredients and their nutritional value and provides clarity on deciphering nutrition labels and calculating calories consumed vs. calories burned. The workshop culminates in a graduation ceremony, where the participating families receive certificates and small gifts. C.H.E.F. is aware of financial concerns of the low-income families it serves, and so the committee makes special effort to ensure that recipes use cost-efficient ingredients.

What’s the impact?

Last year NYJL C.H.E.F. served more than 500 members of the community and committed 480 volunteer hours to the program.