Brenner FIT Takes Cooking Classes into the Community

A dash of mobility and a tablespoon of education mixed with a lot of hands-on learning is the recipe for a community outreach initiative by Brenner FIT (Families in Training) – the Kohl’s Cooks mobile kitchen.

Brenner FIT, a pediatric obesity program of Brenner Children’s at Wake Forest Baptist Health, designed its mobile kitchen to continue its ongoing support of children’s health and education initiatives in the local community. A two-year grant from the department store chain Kohl’s, through its Kohl’s Cares program, helped create the Kohl’s Cooks mobile kitchen.

The mobile kitchen serves low-income families twice a month in their own communities, removing the transportation challenges that some families face.

The program provides participants with interactive cooking classes led by a Brenner FIT chef. Classes also offer cooking tips, recipes and ideas on how families can economically shop for groceries and prepare inexpensive but nourishing meals.

“Over the last decade, Brenner FIT has found that instead of just teaching quick and healthy recipes, families have better results with hands-on instructions focused on how to cook, how to grocery shop and how to plan meals,” said Joseph Skelton, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

“Through our Kohl’s Cooks mobile kitchen, we can offer this hands-on interaction to everyone in the community. These are essential skills if a child and family aim to eat healthier.”

The mobile kitchen consists of a utility-sized cargo van equipped with four large, removable carts with each cart containing a small oven and a hotplate burner. All of the essentials of a kitchen—from a set of pots and pans, to utensils, kitchen tools and groceries—are made available for two adults and two children to prepare an entire meal on each cart.

The mobile kitchen’s cooking classes last 90 minutes and are offered in both English and Spanish.

“With this practical experience, children and families are certainly better supported in their journey to make healthy food choices,” Skelton said.