Bob Bickell is a longtime journalist who writes for many publications, including The Restaurant Report, a publication designed for those in the food service industry. He also oversees Hip4Kids Today, a publication that educates readers about things they can do to lead healthier lives and reverse childhood obesity. Hip4Kids Today is a product of the nonprofit organization Hip4Kids, which was founded by Chef Christopher Daly more than a decade ago to educate people about the importance of good nutrition.
In the guest piece below, Bickell recalls meeting Daly, a PreventObesity.net Leader, and shares why the organization’s work is so important.
Eleven years ago, The Restaurant Report began ranting and raving about how fast food was driving increased childhood obesity rates. We knew that we were systematically raising an entire generation hooked on unhealthy food. We knew that everyone, including parents and schools, was failing miserably when it came to raising healthy kids. We knew childhood obesity was about to become an epidemic. In the years since, the problem only became progressively worse.
But not all hope is lost — and nor was it back then.
Deciding to act, we published an article noting that "[o]ur kids have become psychologically and even physiologically addicted to a diet that is unto itself, blatantly unhealthy." We called upon the chefs of America to get involved in some type of effort to educate the public regarding the dangers inherent in a steady diet of fast foods and sugary drinks. We wanted to develop some type of program to teach the importance of fresh food and healthy dining.
Shortly after we published that piece, Chef Christopher Daly contacted us and suggested that he was ready to fight the battle to get Americans to eat healthier food. Daly wasn’t your average cook, mind you. At the time, he was Chef de Cuisine at Petrossian in New York.
The good chef wrote to us, "It is a terrible thing to think of the scope of damage being done in the name of convenience and fast foods. Our youth is being commercialized; their health is in danger, and their future is being placed in jeopardy."
And Chef Daly did more than simply contact us. He single-handedly started an organization called Hip4Kids, which stands for Hospitality Industry Professionals for Kids. This nonprofit group works to educate parents and children about healthy eating and good nutrition, including through multimedia learning programs, community outreach and innovative educational lifestyle programs for kids and young adults.
Hip4Kids is still going strong today and this chef hasn't backed down one inch. Chef Daly is making something happen, and while we it might seem at times we are losing the war against obesity, the chef is winning the battle. For example, recipes and his programs for fresh, healthy food have been adopted in schools all over the country.
It's a great story, and in fact, I don't believe Chris Daly would ever say we are going to lose the war against obesity. The man is actually saving lives, and based on his performance to date, he will continue to do so.
Eleven years ago, very few people cared about childhood obesity, and that led to the crisis we face today. But there’s lot we can do to turn the tide, including through education — just ask Chef Daly.
Don't miss the rest of the Inside Track: Click here to find out how a teen mystery novel is taking on childhood obesity. Also learn about how teens are becoming advocates for farm to school programs, and be sure to get the info for an upcoming webinar looking at advocacy efforts following the Weight of the Nation documentary.