WHO WE ARE
AS A PROFESSIONAL CHEF AYESHA RENEE GORDON KNOWS THE IMPORTANT ROLE FOOD PLAYS IN OUR EVERYDAY LIVES. FOOD IS A WAY TO BRING FAMILY AND FRIENDS TOGETHER.
Established in 2013 by NYC-based professional chef Ayesha Renee Gordon, Healthy Kids First is a 501 (c) non-profit designed to educate children and families on a better, healthier approach to food.
As a Chef, Ayesha Renee knows the important role food plays in our everyday lives. Food is a way to bring family and friends together, to share good times, and of course, to sustain ourselves. But sadly, for too many children in America, especially those in economically-challenged communities, poor eating habits and malnutrition are at an all-time high. As a result, so is poor health.
According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled over the last three decades. One in three children is considered overweight; the ratio is even higher among young African American and Hispanic populations. The numbers place these children at imminent risk for issues such as prediabetes, cardiovascular disease, and bone and joint degeneration as well as psychological problems and low self-esteem. Long term effects of obesity include cancer, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and even stroke. Diseases previously associated with aging are now showing up in younger and younger patients, and are often tied to nutritionally inadequate and unhealthy diets.
Urban communities are especially affected: not only is there limited access to markets carrying clean, affordable food – many residents must settle for shopping at convenience stores or fast-food restaurants – there is also a lack of training and education in healthy eating.
Chef Ayesha Renee saw the problems these communities faced and decided to act. She began sharing her food knowledge through interactive cooking tutorials in schools, at fairs, and even local community centers. Her engaging, positive presentations explained the nutritional value of food, and provided recipes that are fresh, delicious and best of all, easy. Participants learned how to identify quality foods at reasonable prices, and develop meal plans that stretch a family’s budget without sacrificing flavor and nutrition.
But the young chef wanted to do more. In 2017, Healthy Kids First launched its sister-mission, the “Take-a-Bite” program, which distributes free meals to food-insecure children in underprivileged NYC neighborhoods. These children are usually dependent on school lunches for what could be the only real meal they’ll have all day. Under Chef Ayesha Renee’s guidance and leadership, Take-a-Bite fills the food gap they face when classes aren’t in session – weekends, holidays, even summertime. The program’s dedicated team is relentlessly committed to driving change – the kind of change that will help put an end to this growing epidemic.
While Healthy Kids First has already accomplished a lot, its future goals are limitless. The organization continues to empower young people with the information and skills they need to make smarter food choices and embrace a healthier lifestyle. It also wants to tackle the immediate and complicated challenges of food insecurity head-on. These problems are big, but Healthy Kids First’s determination is bigger. If you ask Chef Ayesha Renee, no situation is without hope. It’s never too late to turn things around, one meal at a time.