The New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition & Health (IFNH) at Rutgers University recently announced its partnership withChopChop, a nationwide magazine, which is dedicated to “inspiring kids to cook and be nutritiously curious and literate.”
“The impetus behind the partnership was the new name of our new institute in New Jersey (the Center for Childhood Nutrition Education & Research),” stated Daniel Hoffman, Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University. “We’re really focusing on how to educate families to cook and eat food.”
The two organizations seemed fated to work together after being introduced through a mutual benefactor—Sally Sampson, president and founder of ChopChop Kids and a James Beard Award winning cookbook author—who believed their common mission statements and goals would make them a perfect match. Turns out, Sampson was right on target.
“We quickly knew we really should work together,” stated Sampson. “It’s really exciting. It’s the first time that we’re working with someone and getting a back-and-forth dialogue.”
The IFNH’s Center for Childhood Nutrition Education & Research will use the nationally distributed ChopChop magazine as a tool for coming up with new ways to educate people, such as using their family friendly recipes, proper cooking practices, fitness instruction and new foods for children to explore. As the Center’s partner, ChopChop will benefit from research that the Center distributes, providing them with factual information they can use when creating innovative concepts that will engage children in their magazine.
“Rutgers brings a targeted effort with a message that we share,” Sampson said. “New Jersey has a place for this. It brings gravitas to what we do.” IFNH will be using ChopChop magazine as a tool to better nutritional health for children by distributing it through the SNAP program (formerly NJ Food Stamps), New Jersey pediatricians, families, and schools.
Hoffman said, “We really want to shift the culture of food as we see it.” He believes that children and families without an established food culture are more likely to have issues with their relationship to food. “Those [families] without a food culture, we want to help develop one,” he noted. “Those with a food culture, we want to improve it.”
The Center for Childhood Nutrition Education & Research is expected to open its doors in July 2015. The cooking lab will be the heart of the center, inviting children from preschool through high school to participate in its three phases: a traditional classroom, progressive outdoor free play, and kitchen/dining area featuring interactive cooking lessons. Hoffman looks forward to inviting New Jersey schools and communities to attend the center for half-day field trips.
Once the center is up and running, Rutgers and ChopChop will also participate in an internship program for Rutgers University students involved with IFNH. Interns will be involved with the center’s activities and contribute to ChopChop magazine.
When asked what they hope their partnership achieves in the next five years, Hoffmann and Sampson agreed that they want to see a decrease in obesity and an increase in cooking. “We’re still in our infancy, but we can do a lot,” stated Sampson.
“So many ideas can blossom from this partnership,” stated Hoffman.
Get more information or subscribe to ChopChop magazine.
Learn more about the Center for Childhood Nutrition Education & Research.
Melissa Beveridge is a freelance journalist and editor, focusing on great food, healthy living, and wellness. Her passion for eating and living well embodies her writing. A lover of all things Jersey, she is also an avid traveler, always looking to discover those hidden culinary gems everywhere she goes. Her musings can be found on her blog mbeewell.wordpress.com.