Our work begins locally, addressing the needs of a single community: a public school and the children and families it serves.
In an effort to combat childhood obesity and create healthier learning environments, Wellness in the Schools (WITS) developed Cook for Kids and Coach for Kids, hands-on food and fitness programs that are poised for replication nationwide. Cook for Kids has even received national accolades from First Lady Michelle Obama, and the WITS model served as inspiration for the Chefs Move to Schools Initiative. Since WITS began offering these innovative wellness-oriented programs in 2008, we have grown from three schools to twenty-five schools as of fall 2011. In the 2011-2012 school year WITS will serve nearly 20,000 students.
Based on the overwhelming body of research showing that poverty and obesity are linked, WITS focuses its work in NYC public schools with a poverty level of 70% or higher. By directly engaging students around healthy eating and fitness WITS is able to create a ripple effect into the larger community: students who work with WITS cooks and coaches bring that knowledge home with them, sharing with their freinds, family, and neighbors.
What began as a grass-roots effort by a small group of concerned NYC public school parents in 2005 is now a rapidly growing non-profit organization recognized nation-wide as a leader in food, fitness, and wellness programming.