VELAS Cocina is a series of healthy cooking classes, spearheaded by our Community Chefs, which takes place once a month at each VELAS Farmers Market and at other community centers. They are designed to educate families in increasing their food choices with meals that are healthy, nutritious and varied, while using fresh, high quality season produce from the farmers markets. This program strives to achieve the overall health and wellness of the community.
The healthy cooking classes take place at the site of the Farmers Market and run for an hour. Our Community Chefs give a live, step-by-step demonstration of a recipe, featuring a specific fruit or vegetable that is in season and available at the Market. The classes are bilingual and interactive. Attendees ask questions or make comments. A second recipe is usually demonstrated in which children have a hands-on opportunity to make their own meal or snack. Adults and their children who attend get a sample of the recipes demonstrated. Each adult receives a copy of the recipe and a coupon to buy Farmers Market Produce. Parents who attend learn how to make practical, delicious and healthy recipes for their families using produce available at the market and also learn how to instill in their children healthier eating habits.
The VELAS Cocina Program resulted from a collective response to the alarmingly high diabetes rates in East Los Angeles by VELA and its partners: USC Keck Center for Diabetes, the Rose Hills Foundation and the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. The Community Chefs launched the first Healthy Cooking Class during the summer of 2006 and since then, the Program has become a successful and integral part of community health, tripling its class size by its first year of existence. The Healthy Cooking Program has reached out to communities in South Whittier and Valinda/La Puente areas. The Community Chefs have also given demonstrations at nearby WIC centers and will continue to do so throughout the year.
For class schedules see our Calendar of Events. To sign up for a class contact us or if you would like to schedule a class for your group or agency, contact us.
Volunteer or Become a Community Chef
Volunteers are scheduled to run the VELA registration booth, to assist clients in completing surveys and to assist in preparing samples for the audience. Volunteers internalize the educational goal of the classes and also learned how to make healthier meals at home. We are constantly recruiting new culinary talent. If you would like to volunteer for this program, contact us.