Target Joins the Y to Help Chicago Teens and Families Cook Healthier Food

December 11, 2017


Thanks to a generous grant from Target, the YMCA of Metro Chicago is expanding our healthy cooking programs to reach more people than ever before."

As part of our commitment to Healthy Living, the Y provides free, inclusive, hands-on cooking classes to youth and families in multicultural communities across Chicago — with the aim of preventing obesity and diet-related chronic diseases.

Now, thanks to a generous $82,000 grant from Target, the YMCA of Metro Chicago is expanding our healthy cooking programs to reach more people than ever before.

Specifically, the grant allows us to bring “Cooking Matters” programs for youth and families to additional neighborhoods, launch a new “Cooking Matters” program for child care professionals, and relaunch two sessions of our “Foodies” program for teens with a new curriculum.

"The generous support of Target will help us deliver on our 'healthy living' mission anchor,” says Lyss Welding, Senior Manager of Healthy Living Demonstration. “The Y is already known for sports and fitness. Programs that focus on nutritious cooking and affordable healthy eating are a natural next step for the Y."

In addition to these programs, the YMCA Center in the West Loop is home to the Healthy Living & Demonstration Kitchen — currently in design — a dedicated learning environment for hands-on cooking and nutrition education for children, teens and families.

Target has a long history of supporting the Y. Between 2014 and 2016, nine Target employee groups provided 255 hours of service across our association, helping with everything from Healthy Kids Day to Halloween at the Y events.

The Programs

In “Cooking Matters,” Y staff teach teens and families about healthy meal preparation, grocery shopping, food budgeting, and nutrition — providing critical support to local families from under-resourced communities, and empowering them to make healthier choices on a budget.

In “Foodies,” our signature culinary program for teens, Y staff provide free cooking classes that explore cultural identity and look for solutions to the health and food access issues in Chicago communities, including inequitable access to healthy foods, generational divestments in communities, and moving beyond traditional nutrition education.

Currently, the Y is piloting a revamped “Foodies” curriculum that promotes community wellness by supporting youth and their families in their health knowledge and access, as well as personal and cultural identity, with a focus on food justice and leadership.

The Y welcomes Target volunteers to be active agents in our healthy cooking programs. In “Cooking Matters” and “Foodies,” volunteers assist staff in cooking class preparation and clean up and help execute special events and showcases.

To learn more about the Y’s healthy living programs, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about Target’s grants programs, click here.