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St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor to host free cooking classes, nutrition program for teens

Residents ages 12-14 can enroll in the four-week Nutrition Buddies Research Program

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor will provide Farm Share produce boxes to 2021 Nutrition Buddies participants for two seasons. (Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital/ The Farm at St. Joe's)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Know a teen interested in learning about healthy food? Help them enroll in a virtual nutrition and food course hosted by St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor.

Young community members ages 12 to 14 can now sign up for the 2021 Nutrition Buddies Research Program, which will take place online for four weeks between April and May.

Through the program, participants will learn about science and agriculture, have hands-on cooking and nutrition instructions and will work with St. Joe’s physicians to create plant-based meals while at home.

Teens in the Nutrition Buddies course will also receive a free two-season membership to the St. Joe’s Farm Share, which collaborates with 18 local farms to offer a variety of produce, according to a release.

“We know that poor nutrition is a major contributing factor of chronic disease in America, and people who experience food insecurity are at higher risk,” said Saint Joseph Mercy Health System Lifestyle and Culinary Medicine coordinator Alexandra Babcock.

“By helping children establish healthy eating patterns at an early age, we empower them to live longer, healthier lives.”

St. Joe’s noted that, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Feeding America estimates one in four children in the United States suffer from hunger. The organization’s Map the Meal Gap, 2016 report found that 13.6% of Washtenaw County residents face food insecurity, said the release.

Participants in the Nutrition Buddies course will work with St. Joe’s internal medicine and transition year physician residents, who will share the knowledge they have gained through nutrition and culinary medicine education.

For more information, or to register a teen, call 734-712-7993 or send an email to NutritionBuddies@stjoeshealth.org.

The Nutrition Buddies Research Program, funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, started in the summer of 2020 with 30 participants who had over 13 hours of instruction and three hours of farm-based and ecology experiences. The hospital system said that 8,832 pounds of local food was given to families and residents in 2020.

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