The meeting in the gym where we met was for the fledgling Lower East Side Community Partnership that had just started. The LESCP as it was referred to was a program that began with a grant to create a network of agencies that could provide a safety net for families that were part of the foster care system or who were at risk in the community. I was asked to be a part of the planning process by the Directors of the lead organization who had asked me to help coordinate and introduce the faith based community to the project, and to help bring that perspective to the table. At the meeting the day that I met Lynn, the Directors of the project had been asking if anyone had any ideas for family meetings that could be held in places that were outside of offices and could be less stressful and more fun and relaxed for the families, and I got up in the room full of at least 300 people and told them that I had a vision during a prayer walk of community gardens and that I thought starting and working in them could be a way to help bring families together in a healthy and fun and relaxing way. When I sat down, a woman in front of me turned around and said, "After the meeting, talk to me. I have some resources for you." It was extraordinary that she was there and that she responded in the way that she did, and after the meeting we talked and exchanged information. She told me that there was a program through the New York City Housing Authority that would help people and organizations who were located in public housing start community gardens, and she started sending me contacts right away. Every connection and contact she gave me led to something wonderful, and I was able to start the community garden. Her contacts led to other contacts, and eventually led to my teaching nutrition and health and working in community and youth development in all five boroughs. She really changed my life.
While I was still with the after school program, I was able to write a grant that provided for Lynn to come and teach a workshop with the students and utilize and reference some of the vegetables and herbs we were growing in the garden. It was such a beautiful day with the children and teens working together to make a salad, a Nicoise if I remember the recipe correctly. I also remember so many conversations about ideas that she had as to how to encourage youth and families to cook and eat healthy food that were so wonderful that I brought them into my own classrooms then and ever after.
We've stayed in touch over the years, and recently in one of her newsletters I saw that FamilyCook Productions had published new research, "Experiential Features of Culinary Nutrition Education That Drives Behavior Change: Frameworks for Research and Practice". I contacted Lynn to ask if I could write about her and her work and FamilyCook Productions as an organization that is a long standing model of excellence in youth development work.
There is something that Lynn is able to do in a classroom of students that is both inspiring and inspired. She loves encouraging and teaching youth to eat healthy food, to learn about it and to learn how to cook it. From the beginning she had designed something called Teen Battle Chef that was an innovative way for students to compete in their mastery of cooking skills, and she had always stressed the importance of teaching children with respect, giving them tools to use that were professional, and teaching them professional techniques such as knife skills. Her programs are taught throughout major cities such as New York City, Philadelphia and Denver, Colorado, and have been replicated in over 30 States and more than 300 Sites, with 74% of students reporting healthy behavior change and 90% reporting that they positively influence their family and friends. When I was being trained to teach nutrition and health, we were taught the saying "Each one teach one." For Lynn Fredericks, she's taught so many in such a beautiful way that she has made their world and all of ours a much more delicious, inviting and healthy place to live.
The Inspirational Teaching Of Lynn Fredericks, Founder
Photographs Courtesy Of The Website and Instagram Pages
Ten Drivers Of Behavior Change