Making A Difference

Police Officers, Children Strengthen Community Bonds Through Cooking-Based Program

Chicago police are Making a Difference with "Healthy Plates with Police"

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Chicago police officer is helping to forge new bonds with the community through a youth-led, family-oriented program called "Healthy Plates With Police."

The program encourages young Chicagoans to learn more about the importance of nutrition, and how to prepare good-tasting and healthy meals.

"We need to be able to eat more healthy meals," officer Delbert Howell says. "We need to know how to prepare more healthy meals more importantly and have more fun as we are doing it"

One Saturday per month Kennedy-King College generously opens its culinary doors and even provides food for the non-profit.

"It's for K-through-12th grade, and we are able to teach healthy meals and how to make meals they can buy in their own grocery stores in their own neighborhood," Howell says.

Although the pandemic set them back a couple of years, this program- since 2018- has reached more than 1,000 young people across the city.

The program aims "to help the police, community, youth and parents engage all at the same time," Howell says. "When you’re breaking bread with people, you’re engaging, having a good time. that’s one of the reasons we started Healthy Plates With Police."

Last weekend, dozens of kids and parents returned for the first time since Feb. 2020, with dozens showing up.

"We started this because we also wanted to give our youth an ability to have a vocational skill," Howell says. "And we want to expand other vocational programs….. we started with culinary. This is a skill they can take for the rest of their lives."

Families like the Harmons have attended several of these events and ready for more.

"Awesome, and there’s usually a simple recipe for them to follow. The chef head chef starts with a demo. And we follow him from there," Jaime Harmon says. "It comes fully stocked with aprons, and chef hats, and it’s a great experience"

Healthy Plates is a non-profit that runs the program. More information can be found on the group's website.

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