FEAST with WITS Launches at Bowery Mission

Wellness in the Schools is delighted to announce the official launch of our partnership, FEAST with WITS. Since 2018, we have partnered with FEAST based on our shared belief that everyone should have access to nutritional food, food education, and a community of support. FEAST with WITS brings our partnership to a new level as we officially team up to better serve our communities with a together we are stronger attitude. Through FEAST with WITS, we offer our communities a 12-week program that measurably increases health and wellbeing for families. 

Despite a more tentative school start, FEAST with WITS kicked off in September for parents of the children enrolled in the Mont Lawn City Camp & Summer Camp, a program of The Bowery Mission of New York. Our incredible WITS Lab Instructor Victoria Baluk is teaching a 12-session program to 10 women, all of whom are diving deep into food education and open and shared conversations about healthy eating, shopping, and cooking skills. At every class, Victoria makes a recipe that can be prepared for a family of four for under $10. At the end of every class each participant receives a $10 gift card for the local grocery store. 

While some challenges have presented themselves — almost all participants speak only Spanish, and the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic make group work difficult — the Bowery Mission Program is a collective of women and mothers, each of whom is there for the common goal to improve personal health and the health of their families. This class is two quiet hours of much-needed self-care time, which most mothers and women need after often putting others first. In this class, we partner with a translator, and the participants have already connected in their safe weekly space through sharing and exploring their relationships with food, health, and setting personal goals, all while supporting each other along the way. 

Many of the adults participating in the FEAST with WITS program are not only making the commitment for themselves but also to benefit their families. In FEAST with WITS, we not only offer guidance on what to do to improve health through food but make it a priority to explain why. Speaking about her experience, Chef Victoria says, “I believe that better health is attainable for every person who makes the effort to show up and be vulnerable and open to the possibility.” 

In 2020, at a FEAST program in Harlem, one WITS staff member celebrated the winning recipe emerging from this partnership. The program members discussed making healthier choices when eating out at restaurants and then cooked together, making a Chickpea Salad with Tomatoes & Cucumber and a Sautéed Zucchini, Tomato, and Chickpea Ragout served atop couscous. With a delicious feast shared between program participants and meaningful insights on wellness and healthier habits, a true community support system formed. Our FEAST with WITS partnership aims for all to feel comfortable learning together, taking one step forward at a time to leading healthier lives. 

To learn more about FEAST with WITS, click here

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