By Tara Sheridan - Communications and Development Manager
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
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