Nourishing Change: Katherine Gage Boulud's Culinary Crusade with Spoons Across America

Spoons Across America: Sowing Seeds of Nutritional Wisdom in Schools
Katherine Gage Boulud
Katherine Gage BouludCourtesy of Katherine Boulud

In the heart of a movement that blends culinary expertise with nutritional education, Katherine Gage Boulud stands as a beacon of change. With a rich background as a chef and a transformative journey into nutrition education, Boulud has become a pivotal figure in Spoons Across America—a non-profit dedicated to cultivating healthier food choices among children. This exclusive interview peels back the layers of her passionate involvement, the organization's impactful curriculum, and the ambitious goals for their upcoming gala. As Boulud shares her personal journey from gourmet kitchens to the classrooms of America, we delve into the essence of teaching nutrition as a lifestyle, the collaborative efforts to enhance school meals, and the broader mission to influence food policy on a national level. Through her eyes, we explore the transformative power of educating the younger generation about the joys of healthy eating and the ripple effect it can have on society.

How did you first get involved with Spoons Across America?

This is my fifth year co-chairing. It's a challenge to surpass last year, but we're committed to doing just that. My journey with Spoons Across America began through my aunt Kathy, who is close friends with Mitzi Perdue, honored by the organization that year. Originally a chef, I transitioned into nutrition after getting married, returning to school for a Bachelor of Science and later a Master of Science in Nutrition Education. As I was studying and raising my children, Aunt Kathy introduced me to Spoons Across America. The organization's mission to educate children on healthy eating and integrate better meals into school cafeterias immediately resonated with me. Their curriculum, which spans from kindergarten to sixth grade, perfectly aligned with my desire to teach children about healthy food choices early on.

Spoons Across America: a non-profit dedicated to cultivating healthier food choices among children
Spoons Across America: a non-profit dedicated to cultivating healthier food choices among childrenJILLIAN NELSON

How many schools have adopted your curriculum, and what impact does it have?

Our curriculum is implemented in approximately 20-30 schools, reaching over 20,000 children in New York City and across the nation, including those engaged in our homeschool program. We emphasize teaching children to maintain an open mind about trying new foods. Our collaboration with the mayor's office on food policy, and honoring figures like Kate McKenzie, underscore the importance of incorporating our curriculum into broader educational and nutritional policies. She went through Columbia Teachers College with the Nutrition Education Program, and essentially has written the 10 year plan for New York City's food policy, to not only improve all the other elements relating to food policy, but also in school lunches, and educational programs. Our goal is to excite children about food exploration, making them eager to try meatless Mondays and plant-powered Fridays, thus ensuring the food served is enjoyed rather than wasted.

Can you tell us about your path to becoming a chef and how it influenced your work with Spoons Across America?

My fascination with food started early, encouraged by my mother's inventive cooking. My culinary journey was enriched by international travel and study, I studied in the south of France in high school, and then in Rome in college.  After dabbling in media and politics post-college, my passion for hosting dinner parties steered me back to the kitchen.  During my years of training in the kitchen I worked at renowned dining establishments in Paris, Bali and the South of France leading me to explore various global cuisines and ultimately to a career in fine dining. I honed my skills at Café Boulud and other prestigious establishments, embracing the hospitality industry's communal spirit. My subsequent involvement in charity work, such as City Meals on Wheels, and a deep-seated belief in the importance of early nutritional education drew me to Spoons Across America. Teaching children about healthy eating from a young age, I believe, is as crucial as teaching them a new language, setting the foundation for healthier lifestyle choices later in life.

What can we expect from this year’s spring gala?

This year, we aim to spotlight nutrition education's critical role on a national scale, seeking both government and private support. Partnering with NYU Steinhardt, we're focusing on measuring our program's effectiveness to better demonstrate its impact. We plan to honor Marion Nestle who is the professor emeritus at NYU and has also written countless books on the current food situation in America and what is defining healthy food.  We are also honoring Daphne Oz for her work with HealthCorps that support children and teens across America with nutritional and fitness education to help empower them to take ownership of their health. As a television personality she instrumental in influencing families and children to cook at home on TV shows such as FOX’s MasterChef Junior, ABC’s The Chew and The Good Dish. The gala will also serve as a platform to celebrate the success of initiatives like our partnership with NYU's Food Lab, which will help us leverage our results to attract further support. The gala will also serve as a platform to reinforce the importance of integrating our programs into a comprehensive food policy, making nutrition education a priority for future generations.

What changes are needed to enhance public awareness of food and nutrition?

A significant shift is required towards recognizing the importance of nutrition in medical education and public awareness. There's a growing need to view food as medicine, capable of addressing and preventing health issues without immediate reliance on pharmaceuticals. By fostering a deeper understanding of the relationship between diet and health among both healthcare professionals and the public, we aim to promote healthier eating habits through informed dietary decisions, envisioning a future where food literacy is an integral part of our healthcare system.

For more information on the Spoons Across America Benefit on April 25 please visit:

Katherine Gage Boulud
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