The Garden to Table program is an ongoing activity in which individuals who receive day and residentialsupport services can participate. Some individuals work in the gardens just during the growing season, others participate in cooking classes year round, some assist with distributing fresh produce to houses and others receivenutritional consultation and individual instruction.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults and children with disabilities face rates ofobesity that are often 38-57% higher than the national rate of obesity in non-disabled adults and children. There are currently no community classes or programs accommodated to provide specialized instruction for adults with down’s syndrome or intellectual disabilities.
In direct response to the need for nutrition education in the community, CSS piloted a "Garden to Table" program this past year. Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities planted and harvested seasonal vegetables in partnership with Red Wiggler Farm, participated in cooking instruction and incorporated nutritional recommendations into daily menu planning in their own homes. Increased skill and independence in cooking and healthy eating provides multiple opportunities for inclusion with other people such as gardening in community plots alongside community members, grocery shopping at local stores, and social events involving food preparation such as dinner parties or picnics.
In direct response to the need for nutrition education and recreational opportunities in the community, CSS created the "Garden to Table" program, which serves individuals with intellectual disabilities, by offering appropriate cooking classes and instruction on how to prepare healthy meals and snacks. CSS strives to promote a healthy lifestyle among the individuals it supports. This extremely vulnerable population presents unique challenges to incorporating a healthy habit set into their daily schedules. Individuals on the autism spectrum often have difficulty obtaining life skills such as cooking, preparing meals and snacks. Parents, teachers and other support staff of children and adults often have difficulty incorporating their son or daughter with autism into meal planning and preparation due to a lack of knowledge on how to structure tasks in a safe manner. Opportunities within the community to receive tailored, appropriate cooking instruction are lacking. Adults with developmental disabilities face rates of obesity that are higher than the national rate of obesity in non-disabled adults. There is virtually no comprehensive nutrition education specifically targeted for individuals with autism, and adults have difficulty obtaining life skills such as cooking and preparing meals because community instruction opportunities are lacking. This critical gap in skills further impedes these adults in achieving independence. CSS is working to solve this problem by providing comprehensive instruction in healthy living skills, such as cooking and meal choices. CSS hired Adam Rast as Kitchen Manager/Cooking Instructor. Mr. Rast started his kitchen career as a busboy working at Black's bar and Kitchen in Bethesda, Maryland. When a position in the kitchen opened he took the opportunity to step onto the hot line and began the process of becoming a proficient line cook. 10 years later he continues his career as a kitchen professional, having worked in several top rated restaurants in Maryland and Washington, DC. His years of professional kitchen work have provided him with a wealth of knowledge and experience in kitchen management, nutrition, utilization of fresh produce, international cuisines, bread making, baking, pastries, and confections. He now takes great pride in offering that knowledge to the clients and staff of Community Support Services.
A video of one of the cooking class that CSS catered to the needs of 2 of the individuals that we support can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/M_1_vt3-wIA
In August we updated you with the CSS Garden to Table program and the addition of a full time cooking instructor, Adam Rast. Over one hundred individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, are now participating in at least one instructional cooking class per week at the CSS Resource Center or in their own home. The hard work of the gardening groups and partnership with local farms has paid off with a large variety of produce. As the gardens are harvested, fresh herbs and vegetables are coming into the kitchen and being used for homemade pizza, veggie lasagna, spaghetti sauce and salads. Support staff attending classes with individuals with disabilities have learned how to substitute fresh produce in recipes and create tasty new creations.
This past week, the participants in our Healthy Cooking Group class, with Adam Rast, are having fun making taco salads with each student participating in making the meal from start to finish. The meal consisted of ground turkey and spices, fresh tomatoes, onions, avocados, romaine lettuce and limes. The participants waited patiently for one another to fill their plates with the fresh taco salad before consuming the fruits of their labor. When the time came, there were smiles all around!
Hey GlobalGiving supporters! The CSS Garden to Table program came full circle this summer with the addition of a full time cooking instructor, Adam Rast. Over one hundred individuals with developmental disabilities including autism are now participating in at least one instructional cooking class per week at the CSS Resource Center or in their own home. The hard work this spring of the gardening groups and new coordinator has paid off with a large variety of produce. As the gardens are harvested, fresh herbs and vegetables are coming into the kitchen and being used for homemade pizza, veggie lasagna, spaghetti sauce and salads. Individuals who had previously declined specific vegetables are now including them as toppings, in sauces or dips. Support staff attending classes with individuals with disabilities have learned how to substitute fresh produce in recipes and create tasty new creations. Cooking groups are having fun with summer fruits, making ice-cream and other treats like fresh baked muffins.
We are so appreciative of your support and advocacy on behalf of our organization and most important, the youth and adults with developmental disabilities we support in this community.
Hey GlobalGiving supporters! We have tons of exciting news for you about the Garden to Table program, which this project benefits.
Your gifts and support have made it possible for us to hire a gardening program coordinator to help us plan and manage the gardens at the residential homes we support and the growing number of community garden plots our program encompasses. Craig Philips has a background in nursery management and hit the ground running in his new role, expanding our greenhouse/nursery at an industrial complex behind our community resource center, planning out crops at our newest community garden spaces and instructing the gardening club in new techniques to maximize our upcoming harvest!
In the meantime, the newest dinner group has been meeting once a week and preparing some nutritious, delicious meals! (This updater is particularly jealous as her office is a few feet away from the kitchen!) Participants are involved in every step of the meal preparation process- from cleaning the table and setting places, washing greens and raw vegetables, chopping and peeling, basting and breading, and mixing ingredients. Last week the group made lean barbeque pork chops, mashed potatoes, salad (with lettuce from our gardens, which is coming in now and plentiful!), and chopped fruit salad. We recently caught this class in action and took some video- check it out by clicking the link below!
We are still working to meet our overall project goal of $15,000, and we are also planning to post some other projects we have going for summertime recreation activities that need support and funding on GlobalGiving soon, so if you like our mission and are interested in learning more, please check out those new projects when they go up and spread the word to your friends! We are so appreciative of your support and advocacy on behalf of our organization and most important, the youth and adults with autism and developmental disabilities we support in this community.
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