CookShop Provides Nutrition Education to Elementary School Children and Families

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH

Part of the Food Policy Community Spotlight Series

Name: CookShop at Food Bank for New York City

What They Do: Food Bank For New York City’s CookShop program, a SNAP-Ed program, provides low-income children and their families with hands-on or virtual nutrition education workshops. This free program focuses on nutrition and healthy cooking, emphasizing affordable fruits, vegetables, and whole (not processed) foods.

CookShop targets children in NYC public elementary schools and Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) summer camps. CookShop Classroom for Elementary Schools engages students in grades K-5 during the school year. CookShop Classroom for After-School is offered over the summer to students ages 6 through 12 who participate in after-school programs. CookShop Online is available to any interested elementary school and includes videos, worksheets, and activities that can be done in the classroom or remotely.

Lessons focus on the MyPlate model and teach students where food comes from, why whole foods are good for the body, how to prepare simple, healthy recipes, how to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, and how much physical activity to get each day.

CookShop for Families is a six-workshop series offered to parents and guardians of students at schools participating in CookShop. Parents and guardians learn how to eat more nutritious foods and live a more active lifestyle while working on cooking skills that parallel what their kids are learning in their own CookShop workshops. Families receive information about and support for preparing healthy meals at home on a limited budget.

How They Do It: Food Bank uses a train-the-trainer approach for all CookShop programs. The organization provides participating sites with all the resources they need to implement the program, including comprehensive training, curriculum materials, cooking supplies, lesson ingredients, and ongoing programmatic support. There is no cost to the participating sites. 

Public elementary schools, after-school programs, and summer camps are eligible for in-person programming if they qualify for free meal service through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) or if they are a NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing community center. CookShop Online is available to all interested public elementary school teachers who fill out this brief form. Please note that schools that already participate in another SNAP-Ed program cannot participate in CookShop.

Once accepted into the program, teachers and school administrators decide which classrooms and teachers will use the CookShop curricula, with a minimum of five K-5 classrooms per school. Each participating school must also designate one staff member to be the CookShop Coordinator, who oversees the program, orders groceries, and is the main point of contact with Food Bank staff, and two CookShop for Families Leaders (CFLs) to conduct the program with parents. All CookShop Coordinators, teachers, and CFLs must attend a CookShop Training conference, led by the Food Bank, prior to implementing the CookShop curricula.

The curriculum for grades K-2 runs from January through May, with a total of six units with three lessons each. The grades 3-5 curriculum runs for six weeks from January to February (to accommodate state testing schedules) with a total of six lessons (one per week). The summer program, run at DYCD camps, has a six-week curriculum with one lesson per week. The online program follows the same lessons as the standard curriculum for each grade level.

Mission: Food Bank For New York City’s mission is to empower every New Yorker to achieve permanent food security. CookShop supports this goal by empowering children and families in low-income communities with the knowledge and resources they need to fight childhood hunger and diet-related diseases.

Latest project/campaign: CookShop Online was developed in 2020, during COVID-19, to allow educators to continue using the curricula remotely. The online program allows educators the flexibility to teach lessons at their own pace and in the order of their choosing.

Major Funding: USDA’s SNAP-Ed Program

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

Annual Budget: Approximately $10K per participating school

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system: The program has been running for 29 years and reaches more than 52,000 New Yorkers per year across all five boroughs.


Locations: New York City public schools, after-school sites, and DYCD summer camp sites

Core Programs: Nutrition Education

Number of staff: 4

Number of volunteers: 600+ teachers

Areas served: New York City

Year Started: 1994

Program Director: Caitlin Fitzpatrick

Contact Information: Email: 


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