At Northwell Health, we’re committed to the health and wellness of not only our patients and the communities we serve, but our team members as well.
Food is a foundation for maintaining good health, preventing sickness and maximizing clinical benefit. To help our staff learn the power of healthy food, Northwell has established free teaching kitchens across our healthcare system.
Making Nutrition Fun
Teaching kitchens combine culinary instruction with education to help participants learn which foods they should be eating more or less of and the best techniques for cooking them. Our nutrition education covers various topics including heart health, low refined sugar and high fiber. Team members are encouraged to use the same healthy and whole ingredients that Northwell chefs are using in our hospitals’ kitchens.
Employees who attend receive hands-on instruction from Northwell chefs and have the opportunity to sample a variety of nutritious food. These chefs partner closely with Northwell’s registered dietitians to host events that are not only informative but also fun. Samantha Gitlin, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital, says: “Northwell’s teaching kitchens provide the staff and community with exciting and interesting ways to include fresh, nutrient-dense ingredients and new cooking techniques into their daily lives.”
And these aren’t your typical meals! Recipes include everything from one pot Italian quinoa to Asian lettuce wraps with avocado cilantro slaw.
Bringing People Together
“We receive a lot of positive feedback,” says Katrina Hartog, MPH, RD, CDN, CHES, clinical nutrition manager, “but the most satisfying is when a participant says they’ve never tried the featured food or item, then walks away with the recipe to make it at home and sends their colleagues to participate!” The teaching kitchens have grown in popularity, and are also leveraged for for internal team building events as well as community outreach.
These lessons are just one of the education tools organized by the Food & Nutrition teams to expand cooking confidence and nutrition education for Northwell employees. Other initiatives include recruiting and developing chef and dietitians, implementing Northwell Healthy Choice nutrition criteria and staff education.
“My favorite thing is seeing how it brings everyone in the hospital together. We get participation from doctors, nurses, nursing assistants, dietitians, food service workers, and various ancillary staff,” says Bethany O’Dea, RD, CDN, CNSC, assistant clinical nutrition manager, “it is fun seeing everyone get excited about nutrition.”