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Improving the Health of the Next Generation

The Coast to Cascades Culinary Health Education & Fitness (C.H.E.F.) Program promotes healthy lifestyles in Lincoln, east Linn and rural Benton counties by offering:

  • CATCH, an evidence-based program that teaches children the importance of healthy eating and physical activity to improve overall health to 11 new sites
  • Tasting Tables and Pick of the Month Programs that encourage children and families to eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Nutrition-focused cooking classes that give children and families the tools to purchase, prepare and cook healthier meals

What Is C.H.E.F.?

The C.H.E.F. Program builds upon the success of the Coast to the Cascades Coordinated Approach to Child Health (CATCH) Program, implemented in 27 school, after-school and early childhood education sites in east Linn and Lincoln counties in Oregon. The CATCH Program was initially supported through funding provided by a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant from 2012-2015.

The C.H.E.F. Program is funded by a HRSA Network Development grant totaling $884,631 over the course of three years from 2017-2020. The focus of the grant is to strengthen network connectivity and build partnerships through program activities.

Coast to the Cascades Community Wellness Network’s mission is to improve community health in Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties by providing leadership and support for regional partnerships. Linn, Benton, Lincoln, Partners for Health, a local coalition of the CCCWN, assists with C.H.E.F. Program implementation.

Utilizing evidence-based and practice-proven programs, the C.H.E.F. Program addresses childhood obesity by proving curriculum, equipment, resources and support to schools and community organizations in promoting increased physical activity and improved nutrition. Recent BMI data from Samaritan Health Services found that 16 percent of Linn County, 13 percent of Benton County, and 21 percent of Lincoln County children ages 2-17 have been identified as overweight or obese. Through the integrated approach of expanding CATCH and Tasting Table and Pick of the Month programs, as well as offering cooking classes, the C.H.E.F. Program will work to build a culture of health in our rural communities.

  • Assist the children and families of east Linn, rural Benton, and Lincoln counties in attaining higher-quality lives, free from preventable disease related to poor nutrition and obesity
  • Expand the CATCH Program, as well as Tasting Table and Pick of the Month Programs, to 11 new elementary and middle schools, reaching 1,700 children
  • Provide 69 nutrition-focused culinary education courses to children and families, reaching 1,380 participants
  • Engage a total of 96 medical students from the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest and community volunteers in cooking class instruction
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Samaritan supports CATCH, Coordinated Approach to Child Health. CATCH is an affordable, evidence-based program with more than 20 years of research, and is recommended by the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and many other school and health organizations.

CATCH is an approach to child health that transforms a child’s environment, culture and society by coordinating child health efforts across all aspects of the educational experience: classroom, food services, physical education and family. 

CATCH reaches preschool through middle school aged children and teaches healthy habits for a lifetime. CATCH adds healthy eating and physical activity to the school environment and drives the message home to parents through family and community outreach. 

Teachers like CATCH because it gives them proven expert guidance. Kids embrace CATCH because it’s fun! When schools embrace CATCH, and they fully implement it, it works in the fight against childhood obesity.

Hear program directors and educators from Oregon’s east Linn and Lincoln county CATCH programs share how they teach lifelong healthy habits using the CATCH curriculum:

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Culinary Education

Local county health department surveys found that people had an interest in eating healthier, but lacked the kitchen and culinary skills to do so. In response, the CCCWN agreed that cooking classes would be a valuable addition to the services offered to children and families in east Linn, rural Benton and Lincoln counties.

Culinary education courses are implemented through partnerships with the Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute Healthy Youth Program, the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Northwest (COMP-NW) and Food Share of Lincoln County.

The C.H.E.F. Program will offer approximately 69 culinary education courses across the tri-county region over the course of the three-year grant period. Cooking class structure includes a safety and nutrition lesson, as well as participatory cooking. All children and adults have a part in the cooking process, and at the end of the class, participants bring recipes and food home with them to practice the concepts and skills learned in class. 

As the CCCWN wanted the culinary education courses to be truly collaborative and sustainable, the instructors are primarily volunteers. In east Linn and rural Benton counties, medical students from COMP-NW and community volunteers are trained to implement cooking classes by the Healthy Youth Program. In Lincoln County, community volunteers are trained by Food Share of Lincoln County to lead and assist in cooking classes utilizing Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters curriculum. 

2018 Annual Regional Community Health Summit – Screen Time and the Impact of Social, Emotional and Physical Health

Held April 18 at The River Center in Lebanon, the 2018 Annual Regional Community Health Summit explored the various impacts of screen time and the subsequent impacts on an individual’s social, emotional and physical health. The Summit featured a viewing of “Screenagers: Growing Up in the Digital Age”

If you would like to learn more about the topics discussed during the 2018 Community Health Summit, presentation materials are available below.

Making a Difference: How Health Literacy Design Affects Your Clients - Kelly Volkmann, health navigation program manager, Benton County Health Department

Cooking Matters Cooking Demonstration - Pati D’Eliseo, PMP, chef, development coordinator, Food Share of Lincoln County

Promoting Weight Health Equity: Applying an Environmental Justice Lens to the HEAL Context - Deborah John, PhD, associate professor, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University

Screen Time Solutions - Jennifer Meckley, director of human resources and community relations, Lebanon School District, and Louise Muscato, PhD, assistant dean, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest Western University of Health Sciences

Screen Time and The Impact on Social, Emotional and Physical Health - Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at University of Washington School of Medicine 

Engaging Children and Youth in Screen Time Reduction - Pamela Weatherspoon, manager of diversity and community engagement, Legacy Health

Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about the program, email the C.H.E.F. Program Project Director at or call 541-768-5717.