Rachael Ray, “Empower Kids to Cook”
One in three American children is overweight or obese, increasing their risk of diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses, and contributing to health care costs. So, Rachael Ray is putting her popularity to good use — teaching school kids to grow and eat healthier food.
“I pledge my continued support as long as I have a big mouth,” said Ray, as she inspected a garden at a Brooklyn school with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, state Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker and other officials. Ray is helping create menus for 1,600 city public schools where students also are taught cooking and nutrition.
The Brooklyn school project is part of a national campaign against childhood obesity led by first lady Michelle Obama, who helped Washington school children create a White House garden.
The Brooklyn program is supported by Ray’s Yum-o! organization, plus government, private and community nonprofit funds.
Ray, in her usual jovial attitude said as a child – in upstate New York – she ate produce grown by her Italian grandfather. But she confessed with a grin, she also “had the diet of a 75-year-old Sicilian — I loved salt, I ate a lot of anchovies.”