As childhood obesity and related diseases rise to epic proportions in the US, we begin to see a greater push towards nutritional education and action, from the local and national level (See Benicia Magazine’s 2012 article, Benicia Schools Target Healthier Food for Kids).

Locally, the nonprofit Healthy Cooking with Kids, Inc., has been promoting children’s healthy living for the past seven years. The group creates community partnerships and provides nutrition education to BUSD and other Napa and Solano County organizations. Their mission is to motivate and empower children and families to make healthy food choices through hands-on learning with fresh, local, and affordable foods.

In 2008, they received a Kaiser Community Benefit Grant on behalf of BUSD to create a nutrition education program that has been integrated into Benicia’s schools. According to Norma Lisenko, the group’s Executive Director, part of the goal is creating a culture of healthy eating so there’s a supportive environment for positive food choices. “We’ve served thousands of students and have seen a dramatic change in their eating behaviors. Kids are eating vegetables tamales, broccoli, etc. There is also a lot more support from parents, principals, teachers and administrators to continue this effort in our schools than seven years ago.”

This month, Healthy Cooking with Kids, Inc, in partnership with Benicia Community Gardens and BUSD, will hold the first Farm to Family Expo at the Benicia First Street Green, to invite and empower families to make local, healthy food and lifestyle choices and become involved in sustainable community. “We’re hoping this event will help raise awareness and funding for a sustainable food forest pilot program. This movement has the potential to produce over 6,000 lbs. of food by transforming 1/8 acre of land on a school site field as well as other locations in Benicia,” says Lisenko.

An exciting line up of talks and how-to workshops will be presented by master gardeners and local luminaries (including Tara Smith of Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma), ranging in topic from sustainable agriculture to beekeeping to permaculture. Local youth will inspire with project presentations by the BHS Ech2o Academy, and Benicia businesses will showcase locally made and eco-friendly goods.

Get ready for a little bit of everything, as this free event also includes physical fitness elements—yoga, Zumba and a 1K fun run/walk for kids—as well as an interactive kids’ activity corner with pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, music, and “healthy eating, creative play, and physical movement for healthy minds and bodies.” Farm 2 Family Expo, September 13, 10am-3pm, First Street Green. Free admission.