By Catherine Rauscher

Eating well can be one of the most important things that people can do for their overall health and wellness, yet the unfortunate reality is that so many people don’t have access to or the knowledge on how to create nutritious and delicious meals for themselves and their families.

Now, over one year into the pandemic, access to healthy and nutritious food and preparation skills is more important to communities and families than ever before.  

In the spirit of our commitment to provide families with cooking and nutrition information to encourage healthy eating and wellness, Common Threads began offering cooking and nutrition education programming at Oakwood Shores. The program is being offered in collaboration with UChicago Medicine, whose staff will provide medical insight as part of the instruction. Oakwood Shores is a mixed-income housing community in Chicago’s historic Bronzeville neighborhood, and classes will be targeted to residents within the community, including children and senior citizens.  

Programming so far has included a series of cooking classes held via Zoom along with a distribution of healthy groceries to 100 families in collaboration with Wild Fork Foods. In the coming weeks, more in-person programming will be introduced.

“The Oakwood Shores partnership is powerful because we are educating a community of families in their home environments,” said Kassie Hinrichsen, senior program manager for Common Threads. “There’s a multiplier effect when parents, grandparents, friends and neighbors are taking the same health and wellness journey together, and we’re excited by the enthusiasm we have seen so far.” 

Past cooking demonstrations have included butternut squash mac ‘n cheese and spiced chicken kabobs, aiming to assist participants’ abilities and increase imaginations on how to make tasty, healthy and nutritious meals at home.

Through 2021, over 250 residents will participate in cooking classes, supported by the delivery of groceries aligned to Common Threads recipes. The program is being offered at no cost to participants, thanks to a grant from UChicago Medicine. 

About the Author
Catherine Rauscher is a member of Common Threads’ Chicago Board.


About Common Threads

Common Threads is a national nonprofit that provides children and families cooking and nutrition education to encourage healthy habits that contribute to wellness. We equip under-resourced communities with information to make affordable, nutritious and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn, and play. We know that food is rooted in culture and tradition so we promote diversity in our lessons and recipes, encouraging our participants to celebrate the world around them. To learn more about Common Threads, visit