Teaching kids the importance of healthy eating habits is a priority for most parents, and although Rachael Ray isn’t a mom herself, it’s not stopping her from doing the same. The 41-year-old television chef and talk show host recently kicked off her Yum-o Lunch Program in New York, which partners with the city’s Department of Education to provide tasty and nutritious meals for public school students.
The non-profit organization was founded in 2006 with a stated goal of empowering kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking by teaching families to cook, feeding hungry kids and funding cooking education and scholarships.
“[Cooking] helped a lot with my self-esteem and kept me centered and focused through tough times in my life,” Rachael tells the Celebrity Baby Blog.
“It really changed the quality of my life and that’s why I think it’s so important to teach children at a very early age that good food can be fun.”
She adds, “I love being around kids. I like being able to make a change in their lives for the better.”
Yum-o accomplishes its mission with a three-pronged approach: Cook, Feed and Fund.
Kids can visit the Yum-o website to gain tools and resources for making easy, healthy, affordable meals including age-appropriate recipes and tips for the kitchen.
Yum-o partners with organizations such as Share Our Strength (SOS) to make feeding the nation’s hungry children a priority, while also working with organizations throughout the country to raise awareness about and contribute to special projects that address this issue.
Lastly, Yum-o helps kids reach their food-related career goals by funding scholarships and recognizing public schools that are offering food or nutrition programs that incorporate healthy choices.
Rachael — married to lawyer John Cusimano since 2005 — is quick to point out that her organization not only helps others, but herself as well. “[Working with children] helps fill that nurturing need that I think every woman has,” she explains. “It’s very personal to me. It’s my way to have a whole bunch of kids.”
For information on how you can help, click here.
– Missy with reporting by Andra Chantim