Free African Heritage Cooking Classes Celebrate Black History Month in Houston

Classes Connect Cultural Heritage and Healthy Eating

The food and nutrition nonprofit, Oldways will celebrate Black History Month throughout Houston and in Texas with its popular, A Taste of African Heritage (ATOAH) community cooking classes.

The free classes aim to address health disparities in African-American communities by teaching participants to adopt healthy eating habits based on the traditional foods of the African diaspora.

Johnisha Levi, Program Manager, Oldways African Heritage & Health Program, said attendees can expect a “very warm environment” in small classes allowing participants get to really interact with each other over the course of the six weeks.

“Students are invited to use all of their senses in evaluating and tasting dishes. A lot of students, even those initially hesitant about plant-based eating, have told us in the post-surveys how easy, quick, and satisfying these recipes are. The overwhelming majority also tell us that heritage becomes a positive motivator for them to eat better. Some of our classes also include group trips to farmers and spice markets,” said Levi. 

In Houston, classes are scheduled for:

  • February 4 – April 1 | Sundays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | 2019 Crawford (at Gray) Room 127, Houston, TX 77002
  • February 21 – March 28 | Wednesdays, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. | (Not open to the public) DAWN Center Third Ward Multi-Service Center, 3611 Ennis Street, Houston, TX 77004

“A Taste of African Heritage cooking classes showcase the rich history and healthy roots of African culture and traditional cuisine while instilling cooking confidence, basic skills, and enjoyment as motivators for preparing regular home-cooked meals as part of a healthy lifestyle,” said Sade Anderson, Oldways’ African Heritage & Health program manager and African diaspora specialist.

At a time when African-American health disparities are frequently reported in the news, ATOAH works to reverse that trend. Supported by a grant from the Walmart Foundation, ATOAH brings the African Heritage Diet Pyramid to life, showing participants how to eat and cook healthfully, traditionally, and enjoyably through hands-on experience.

Since 2012, more than 2,500 students have participated in a total of 250 ATOAH classes nationwide. The results:

  • 62% of students have lost weight
  • 30% have reduced blood pressure
  • 53% have lost inches from their waist

The majority of students also report sustaining the positive lifestyle changes taught in the class, such as eating more plant-based foods and cooking at home.

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