News Release

San Diego Hospitals Seek “Bright Spots of Health” with Popular Teaching Kitchen Program
New Video Profiles Interactive Cooking Lessons Designed to Cultivate Healthy Lifestyles

(SACRAMENTO – March 5, 2015)  Breaking down cultural barriers and preventing chronic disease just might be easier in the kitchen. That is the idea behind a hands-on Teaching Kitchen program in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood that is the subject of a new video produced by the California Hospital Association.

The community benefit program, funded by Scripps Mercy Hospital and Rady Children’s Hospital, is aimed at teaching low-income residents how to break bad habits and develop healthier lifestyle behaviors by building awareness of good nutrition and cooking skills.

The video can be found here:

Lisa Vandervort, the manager of the City Heights Wellness Center, said the Teaching Kitchen classes have proven to be effective in overcoming distrust and reaching a large immigrant population of Latinos and East Africans, in part because of the social interaction involved.

“If you have a party at your house, where do people congregate? The kitchen,” Vandervort said. “We did a large community assessment. Nutrition was up as one of the priorities. Everyone wants to know how to modify their foods to be healthy.”

Adrienne Markworth, Executive Director of Leah’s Pantry, which specializes in nutrition outreach with programs like this, said, “What we really want to create is just bright spots of health in every community that we work with, and have people out there feeling powerful and comfortable and confident, and that they’re in charge of their health.”     – more -


That outreach is important in a multi-cultural area like City Heights where 39 different languages and dialects are spoken.  The video notes that chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, and asthma are prevalent in the area. To combat that, the program emphasizes the importance of trading high-fat food and sugary drinks for fruits and vegetables.

“When you open the doors to everybody, it’s comfortable to come in to learn,” said Monica Rocha, a City Heights resident who attended her first class at the Wellness Center.

The Teaching Kitchen program is an example of community benefit programs offered by California’s non-profit hospitals, designed in partnership with their community to meet specific needs. 

The California Hospital Association is sponsoring Assembly Bill (AB)1046 by Assemblymember Matt Dababneh (D-Encino), that provides for greater transparency in the reporting of how non-profit hospitals invest in programs like the City Heights Teaching Kitchen.  AB 1046, introduced this week, aligns state and federal laws to eliminate conflicting reporting requirements. The measure will ensure that hospitals can focus on investing in their community’s needs instead of spending resources on conflicting governmental mandates.