Drexel University and Cook for Your Life Team Up

Share Article

New York’s cooking classes for those touched by cancer launches a unique partnership in the city of brotherly love.

News Image
“These students are applying what they learn in the classroom to helping cancer patients, and teaching patients and caregivers.”

Cook For Your Life (CFYL), a New York City based non-profit organization that teaches healthy cooking to people touched by cancer, is launching its first outpost at Philadelphia’s AstraZeneca Hope Lodge. The program, run by founder Ann Ogden, will be facilitated by Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality and Sport Management. The unique partnership will expand the program from its base.

Two-time cancer survivor Ann Ogden founded CFYL in 2007. After going through her own cancer treatments, Ogden realized the impact cooking healthy food could have on both alleviating side effects and promoting a healthy survivorship from cancer. It became her mission to turn dietary advice from doctors and dieticians into practical recipes that would empower patients, caregivers, and survivors to eat better and cook their way through treatment and into survivorship.

Cook For Your Life began in New York City by offering complimentary healthy cooking classes in conjunction with the cancer centers of local hospitals. In 2009, with generous support from private donors, and in collaboration with the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge NYC, Ogden was able to expand the program to offer regular complimentary monthly classes open to patients, survivors and caretakers dealing with all types of cancers. CFYL has also collaborated in NIH/NCI funded research projects and Ogden is a peer reviewed and published co-author on several papers resulting from this work. CFYL now has hundreds of recipes and a website that serves as a platform for free education and ongoing support.

Jonathan Deutsch, Ph.D., professor and director of Drexel University’s Center for Hospitality & Sport Management, is a former board member of CFYL. Deutsch learned firsthand the importance of nutrition through treatment when his father was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. Now a pillar of the Philadelphia food scene, Deutsch was inspired to bring CFYL to Philadelphia – and beyond.

Deutsch recognized that Philadelphia is the ideal place to expand the program: it’s the east coast’s healthcare epicenter, and home to countless top chefs and a burgeoning food scene, while the Drexel Food Lab, part of his nationally acclaimed program, is at his fingertips. The Drexel Food Lab is an interdisciplinary research group that aims to solve real-world problems in the areas of recipe development, product development and product ideation. He has commissioned the lab to lead CFYL in its Philadelphia edition; professors and students are at the helm of the program, having developed over 100 new recipes for use.

Deutsch also recognized the perfect leader for the new chapter: Ana Caballero, a cook at Philadelphia’s a.kitchen an adjunct professor at Drexel will be the Chef Instructor for CFYL. At the age of 24, Caballero was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Having grown up in a family with a strong focus on healthful cooking, Caballero knew the incredible impact food could have on her well-being while going through her treatment.

“This is so much more than just cooking classes. This is hope,” says Caballero. “When you learn you have cancer you enter a world of treatment and hospitals and doctors. During these hard times food can be therapeutic in so many ways. At our classes, caregivers and patients alike can learn a few cooking techniques, talk about food and enjoy a healthy communal meal. It’s a very special space and I’m honored to be part of it.”

Drexel students in the food lab are working with Caballero on developing recipes and teaching the classes. Ally Zeitz, a senior at Drexel and food lab manager, is working alongside her classmate Heather Krick, a junior majoring in nutrition. If the program is successful, it can continuously be passed down to other students in culinary arts. The value of this partnership is symbiotic – endless students mean limitless potential for the program, while CFYL offers students real world experience.

“They’re making a real life impact on major, real-life issues,” says Jonathan Deutsch. “These students are applying what they learn in the classroom to helping cancer patients, and teaching patients and caregivers.”

Cook For Your Life kicks off at the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge on March 19th. Caballero, Zeitz and Krick will lead 10-12 patients and caregivers in a three-course cooking class – the menu may include Herbed Ricotta Cornbread, Napa Cabbage Salad, Vegetarian Chili and Chocolate-Tofu Pudding – followed by a community-wide dinner open to all Hope Lodge guests.

The classes will continue once a month for a year, in addition to quarterly community dinners. Organizers hope this is the first of many CFYL outposts across the country – with additional support, the program can flourish in all 50 Hope Lodge locations. For more information on the program, please visit http://hsm.drexel.edu/du/foodlab/cook-for-your-life-classes-at-hope-lodge/

About Cook for Your Life

Cook for Your Life is a nonprofit organization that teaches healthy cooking to people touched by cancer. CFYL realizes that taking care of one’s health is always important, but during cancer treatment it’s crucial. One of the vital ways to deal with the rigors of cancer treatment is by eating a balanced diet of healthy, nourishing food. CFYL believes that it’s not only the act of eating that can be part of the healing process, but also the act of cooking. Cooking is a simple, easy way to take back the sense of control often lost during cancer treatment. To achieve their mission CFYL teaches hands-on cooking classes in community centers and hospitals throughout the tri-state area. CFYL has also been a long-time partner with Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health in NIH funded research to study dietary behaviors amongst minority cancer survivors. To bring the warm atmosphere of their classes to a wider audience, and to maintain support for those closer to home, CFYL has created a subscription-free website with over 1,000 recipes that are easy to make and full of the nutrients and vitamins needed both during and after treatment. The website serves as a platform for education and ongoing support for all in the cancer community. For more information, please visit http://www.cookforyourlife.org.

About the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge

At the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge, we understand that undergoing treatment for cancer can be both financially and emotionally overwhelming. For many, treatment at Philadelphia's medical centers provides the greatest hope, but requires that they be far from home, adding the additional burden of travel and lodging expenses. That is why the AstraZeneca Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society offers lodging at no cost for cancer patients being treated in the Philadelphia area. The AstraZeneca Hope Lodge of the American Cancer Society became a reality when, recognizing the increased need for affordable housing for cancer patients, AstraZeneca generously offered the lead gift to build the first Hope Lodge in Philadelphia in 2009. For more information on the American Cancer Society and the Hope Lodge, please visit http://www.cancer.org.

About the Drexel University Center for Hospitality & Sport Management – Culinary Arts & Food Science

Today’s chefs are global entrepreneurs who need to be equally versed in culinary and business skills. Drexel University’s Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts offers a distinguished credential that prepares motivated individuals for success in every aspect of the dynamic and fast-paced world of fine food. As one of the few programs in the country that leads to a bachelor’s degree, Drexel is also one of the only east-coast programs that combine the rigorous academics and hands-on practical skills required for a leadership position. Coursework is grounded in the latest culinary applications and enriched by Drexel’s renowned cooperative education program that supplements academic study and provides students with a competitive resume upon graduation. Culinary arts students take classes in Drexel’s state-of-the-art kitchens and prepare food for the university’s Academic Bistro a 14,000 square-foot, student-run learning laboratory that is a fully functional restaurant, bar and lounge. The program instills knowledge across all functional areas of the food industry, from kitchen techniques and traditions to front of the house service, with an additional emphasis on food styling, photography, gastronomy, and international cuisine. For more information, please visit http://www.drexel.edu/hsm.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Visit website