Each year The Happy Kitchen/La Cocina Alegre™ Program hosts a Facilitator Appreciation Banquet for the 40+ Facilitators and their families. The Happy Kitchen Program would not be possible without the dedication of its Facilitators (and their supporting families!). The Happy Kitchen uses the peer-to-peer model to teach and distill cooking and nutrition information that help families make lasting dietary changes for generations to come. We are grateful for Congregation Beth Israel's generosity for letting us use their amazing space. Wheatsville Food Co-op catered the event and let's just say everyone was asking for the recipes afterwards!
Why are they called Facilitators and not teachers or instructors, you might ask? The Happy Kitchen Facilitators certainly do their share of teaching and instructing, however, they are called Facilitators because they facilitate the transfer of knowledge and skills being shared in the class. The majority of the Facilitators were once Happy Kitchen participants themselves and are not formally trained chefs or nutritionists--they may not know all of the answers. However, multiple public health intervention studies have proven the power of peers in helping their community adopt healthier lifestyles. Also, participants themselves are encouraged to share their knowledge and skills with their fellow participants and Facilitators. This kind of environment engages communities in a comfortable way to make behavior changes.
We, as staff in The Happy Kitchen, also learn from our Facilitators. For example, Anne W. taught Katy how to break apart the bones in canned salmon to use in a more calcium-rich salmon patty. Melissa G. taught us not to use the green center part of garlic as it is oftentimes bitter. Who knew?? Adriana learned from Noemi R. that instead of adding a small amount of sugar to sweeten up strawberries, balsamic vinegar can be used!
This year, Facilitators will have dedicated over 2800 hours of their time teaching classes and workshops in Central Texas reaching more than 500 families. We are so thankful for our Facilitators and look forward to the years to come in helping all Central Texans cook and eat healthfully!