Common Threads is piloting a new STEM-focused cooking and nutrition program in partnership with Susan Miller Dorsey High School. This innovative pilot program will cohort 20 high school students from the 9th and 10th grades to participate in chef-led cooking classes. These students will then serve as Small Bites facilitators at 5 nearby elementary schools to lead hands-on nutrition education lessons for 150-200 school students.

Designed to be so much more than mere cooking classes, this program aims to help the students:

  • Build personal nutrition and culinary skills through hands-on training
  • Learn about nutrition-related healthcare careers through guest speakers and interning as Small Bites facilitators with Common Threads
  • Foster healthy communications skills as they co-teach health-centric lessons to elementary and middle school students

Currently, many traditional high school culinary education programs in the United States focus on workplace readiness for the culinary industry, but this pilot seeks to bridge the gap between culinary education and nutritional healthcare training. The students involved in the program will be equipped with nutrition knowledge so that they understand the relationship between food, diet, and personal health. With the growing prevalence of diet-related disease in the United States, Common Threads seeks to begin to address these issues through implementing preventative efforts at the individual, community, and public health levels. There is a major nutritional knowledge gap amongst health care professionals today, with just 29% of US-based medical schools offering the recommended 25 hours of nutrition education. 

“Given that healthcare increasingly considers nutrition to be a key part of addressing patient health, there is an opportunity to innovate on traditional career exploration programs. Empowering high school students with the knowledge and skill directly related to their health is instrumental in achieving health equity. The internship component of the program will promote the healthcare industry and the notion that culinary and nutrition can also be a pathway into STEM-based careers.” – Stephanie Folkens, VP of Programs | Common Threads

This pilot program launch comes after two years of Common Threads having to suspend programming in the Los Angeles area as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Common Threads has been active in the Los Angeles area for over 15 years, having taught cooking and nutrition education classes to more than 130,000 Angelenos at 200+ schools. As we move forward from COVID-19, Common Threads is working to build back its programming in the Los Angeles area, starting with a special Community Top Chef event to kick off the launch of this amazing pilot program at Susan Miller Dorsey High School this school year.

This Community Top Chef event will celebrate the health and wellness at Susan Miller Dorsey High with a live example of our cooking and nutrition program. Guests will experience a California Harvest-themed cooking competition with teams composed of some of the high school students, community leaders, and some of L.A.’s renowned chefs. Read more about the special guest and participants joining us in celebration of this program launch below.


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.