This week, we chatted with PreventObesity.net Leader Jennifer Piette, Founder of the Out of the Box Collective, a Los Angeles Farm to Table Food Service, as well as Editor-in-Chief of Forage & Pasture, an online magazine dedicated to sustainable food systems in Southern California. Jennifer is committed to encouraging a sustainable and local food distribution system for families in her community. Find out about Jennifer’s work with the Out of the Box Collective, and their new and creative campaign, #KitchenTakeover. Connect with Jennifer through her PreventObesity profile here.
Name: Jennifer Piette
Organization: Out of the Box Collective
What inspired you to start working on childhood obesity?
We believe getting back into the kitchen and eating fresh, home-cooked meals is essential to kick the fast-food, processed food habit, which is responsible for so many health problems, including obesity in our children. Confidence in the kitchen is so important for this, but most families don’t support their teens to develop cooking skills, so by the time they graduate from college and later start a family, many still don’t know how to boil an egg. Cooking is such an important life skill to cultivate that we decided to launch a campaign to get youth into the kitchen. We believe cooking can become just as cool and social as other activities youth enjoy, and in turn lead to healthier lifestyles later in life, including when these teens become parents to the next generation of kids, and pass these skills on to them.
How are you helping to reverse childhood obesity?
Out of the Box Collective is dedicated to helping our community take back cooking, with an emphasis on using local, sustainably produced ingredients. We’ve recently launched a #KitchenTakeover campaign in our in-house magazine, Forage & Pasture. The purpose of #KitchenTakeover is to get youth into the kitchen, cooking once a week, and to then share photos on social media. Once we have enough momentum, we will award prizes. We also intend to support participants with weekly challenges, recipes, music playlists and more. We’re set on promoting food literacy so kids know first-hand what healthy food is and how to create their own healthy meals, and learn the value of sharing this food around the table with friends and family. These life skills are fundamental in the fight against obesity and other health issues.
What’s your biggest accomplishment so far in helping reduce childhood obesity?
We’ve been delivering “Real Food Boxes” in the greater Los Angeles area for four years now. All of our selections come from local farms, ranches, and artisan makers, and all of the produce is certified organic or pesticide-free. We mostly serve families and we’re creating a food culture with these boxes. Kids open them up and help the parents unpack them. It’s a box of adventures delivered to their doorstep every week. The kids get to see and taste first hand what’s in season and will having lasting food memories that we are so proud to have played a role in creating.
Who is your role model in your work?
We take inspiration from various pioneers in the “Food Revolution,” from Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, who are reshaping the American attitude to food, to environmentalists like Bob Hunter, and Paul Watson, founders of Greenpeace, who took a stand to announce ecology to the world. Food is central to so many issues, from the environment, to health, to culture, and beyond, and can be a great uplifting and uniting force for our country.
What healthy snacks did you enjoy growing up?
Fresh strawberries and homemade, hand-cranked peach ice-cream.
Each week, our own Prarthana Gurung speaks with a Leader to get a quick look at why he or she loves working to create healthy environments for kids. Want to take part? Visit Prarthana’s profile and contact her.