A student slicing carrotsEvery year the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute provides funding to community-university—graduate, faculty, and undergraduate—partnerships that most successfully demonstrate the potential for advancing the health and well-being of the residents of Baltimore.

In 2019, Margarita Ramos, MD, MPH, a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Sharrica Boldon, Community Coordinator for Strong City Baltimore and Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School were recipients of  the Urban Health Institute's Small Grant Award for their collaboration on a community cookbook. You can read more about that project in their abstract here and the progress of this initiative below. 

In the 2018-2019 academic school year twelve elementary and middle school students from Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School became known as the Margaret Brent Youth Cooking Club. Under the leadership of Dr. Tina Kumra, a team of preventive medicine residents from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Margarita Ramos, Selvi Rajagopal, and Anna Choe) and community coordinator, Sharicca Bolden, led the cooking club weekly on Thursday afternoons at the Church of the Guardian Angel at the encouragement of Pastor Alice-Bassett-Jellema. The goal of this cooking club is to make healthy eating fun and accessible to those in the Remington community by teaching students how to create new and flavorful recipes.

students making meatballsEach week, students learned budget-friendly tips for purchasing healthy food, how to work as a team, methods for making their favorite foods more nutritious, and more! 

With the support of a Urban Health Institute Small Grant, the cooking club published a community youth cookbook. All recipes and majority of the artwork were created by the students of the club.

"We really wanted this to be something kids are proud of. We wanted them to feel like it came from them and not just us”, said Anna Choe, MD, a leader of the program and a preventive medicine resident at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Recipes in the book include sweet potato fries, taco veggie mac and cheese, 4-ingredient almond butter oatmeal cookies, and more! In addition to healthy meal options, you can also find resources for what to look for on nutrition labels and how to make healthy choices in the grocery store that fit your needs and taste buds.

The group plans to provide each student and their families with a copy of the cookbook and aim to promote and distribute it for free throughout Margaret Brent Elementary/Middle School and the community it serves.  As for the cooking club, it has expanded the program by offering more culinary education classes at the Village Learning Place, Inc., an independent non-profit library in Baltimore.

You can learn more about the Baltimore Community Cookbook Collaboration here.

students cooking together