Top chefs take on childhood obesity by teaching inner city kids joy of cooking

By Neki Mohan - Anchor/Reporter

NORTH MIAMI, Fla. - Top chefs are taking on childhood obesity by teaching inner city children the joy of cooking.

Common Threads is a nationwide program that teaches children that healthy food can be fun to make.

The program is one class at North Miami Elementary School where sharp objects are encouraged. The chefs in training got a master class this week from Chef Karen Margol, who is also the mother of Local 10 News reporter Ian Margol.

"They are making Thai coconut chicken curry, and they are going to make a cucumber salad and coconut brown rice," Margol said as the children began to prepare their meals.

Thai Food Day is part of the curriculum of the Common Threads program, where chefs teach students in inner city schools how to prepare nutritious and delicious food. The program is 10 weeks and the students cover a world of recipes.

"Quinoa with sausage and apples with wheat pancakes," fifth-grader Rose Lagou said.

"What was your favorite thing to make?" Local 10 News reporter Neki Mohan asked one student.

"The naan bread," fourth-grader Pkhetura Belizaire said. "It was good and it was fun to make."

Those students were part of an advanced cooking class. The program currently has two classes at North Miami Elementary School, and Common Threads is now in more than 20 Miami-Dade public schools.

"I just stand here to monitor them, but they do everything," Margol said. "A lot of people freak out when they see them with the big knives, but they can do it."

The students even have a garden at the elementary school where they get some of their ingredients.

Margol said the students exercise before they cook and they get to take the recipes home in a book.

"It's really good, because part of the United States biggest problem is obesity, and sometimes you really need to know how to control that," Rose said.

"I love it so much," fifth-grader Emmanuel Venous said. "They treat me like a family. They are a family to me."

Common Threads is funded by grants and private donations. Click here to learn more about the program or to donate to the cause.

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