Mayor Thomas M. Menino enjoyed lunch today with two dozen teens who worked with local celebrity chef Didi Emmons to fix a pair of healthy dishes for the Mayor, Boston Red Sox star Ryan Lavarnway, and Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.
The unlikely lunchmates were treated to handmade sandwiches and a fresh slaw, both created from local ingredients purchased by the teens at the Copley Square Farmers Market. The event was intended to raise awareness about healthy eating for young people as part of the ongoing Boston Moves for Health campaign. Other nutrition-focused efforts will launch in the coming months to address this core component of the overall initiative.
Chef Emmons, of Dudley Square’s well-known Haley House Bakery Café, teamed up with Kathy Cunningham, a registered dietician from the Boston Public Health Commission, to cook with the teens. The two dozen teens represented various youth programs around the city that emphasize healthy eating, urban gardening, or physical activity. Participants came from Future Chefs, the Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, the Mayor’s Youth Council, and the BCYF Blackstone Community Center.
“One of these teens could be Boston’s next great chef, but they’ve already accomplished something by being here today,” said Mayor Menino. “They can go back to their friends and family to teach them something about healthy cooking, which is so important. We want kids to be active in our city, but we also want them eating nutritious and well-balanced meals. This was a fun way to highlight that valuable lesson.”
While Boston Moves for Health has largely focused on encouraging physical activity since launching in April, today’s event at the Copley Farmers Markey served as an informal kick off of other soon-to-come programming aimed at promoting good nutrition for children and families. Starting tonight, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) will begin training childcare providers on ways to better support physical activity and healthy eating for kids. More than 50 local providers are expected to attend the first of several community workshops.
In the fall, BPHC will partner with the non-profit organization Cooking Matters to launch a series of community-based cooking classes aimed at parents with young children. The pilot project will work with neighborhood health centers to recruit participants, with the goal of teaching young families how to cook a tasty, nutritious, and budget-friendly meal.
At today’s event, the chefs-in-training worked alongside Emmons and Cunningham to create a twist on pan bagnat, a traditional sandwich originating in Nice, France. Meaning “bathed bread,” the sandwich is a popular lunch item in markets and bakeries in Southern France. It is usually made with a round of whole wheat bread and filled with raw vegetables, anchovies or tuna, olive oil, basil, and hard boiled eggs. The teens made a special version of the sandwich using goat cheese from the farmer’s market. The vegetables, which were carefully selected by the teens, came straight from vendors at the farmers market. After hollowing out bread donated by Iggy’s Bread of the World, the chefs stuffed it with marinated vegetables and fresh, local goat cheese. A slaw made from fresh veggies with an olive oil-lime vinaigrette was served alongside the sandwich. Download a pdf of the recipe.
After Mayor Menino and Red Sox catcher Lavarnway arrived, the group enjoyed the healthy lunch outside of Trinity Church, as passersby shopped the farmers market or relaxed by the fountain. The importance of a balanced diet and healthy nutrition was a big topic of conversation around the lunch table.
Shoppers at the farmer’s market had a chance to learn more and register for Boston Moves for Health, an ambitious campaign to improve the health and wellness of the city by increasing access to free and low-cost resources that promote physical activity and good nutrition. Those that signed up had a chance to win an apron autographed by Lavarnway.
Mayor Menino has challenged Boston residents to come together to lose one million pounds and move ten million miles over the next year. People can register for the campaign at www.BostonMovesForHealth.org.