Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing

Minneapolis, MN

Wellbeing is the Main Course in University Teaching Kitchen

The University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality & Healing has been advancing the health and wellbeing of individuals, organizations, and communities since 1995. It offers interdisciplinary courses, conducts rigorous research, and advances integrative models of care. With no permanent teaching kitchen space, the center collaborates with community organizations to bring its programming to retail spaces, shared community kitchens and schools. This sustainable model allows the center to increase the accessibility of its programs and to maximize their reach.

A major focus at the center is its academic course Food Matters for Health Professionals: Cook Like Your Life Depends On It. This required course includes both didactic and hands-on culinary skills and reaches over 1,000 students from across health disciplines. It is also offered as a continuing education courses for working professionals.

Borrowing from the Lakota tradition, the center calls on Whole Systems Healing—which acknowledges the wholeness and interconnectedness of all living systems—to cultivate health and wellbeing. Its website Taking Charge of Your Health leads visitors to examine six aspects of their wellbeing and attracts over 250,000 visitors each month.

Pop-up and borrowed kitchens in community settings


If I have an outlet and a table, I have a teaching kitchen.

Jenny Breen, Teaching Kitchen Instructor


Shafto K, Breen J, Wang Q, Simmons K. A Recipe for Wellbeing: Improving Provider Wellbeing, Eating Habits and Nutrition Knowledge Through a Brief Experiential Cooking Course. Pediatrics Jul 2020, 146 (1 MeetingAbstract) 250-251.

Shafto K, Breen J, Decker D. Reimagining Nutrition Education in a Teaching Kitchen. Findings from a Pilot Study. Minnesota Medicine. 2016 Sep-Oct;99(6):44-45.

Kligler B, Brooks AJ, Maizes V, et al. Interprofessional Competencies in Integrative Primary Healthcare. Global Advances in Health and Medicine. September 2015:33-39.

Dawn Bazarko, Rebecca A. Cate, Francisca Azocar & Mary Jo Kreitzer. The Impact of an Innovative Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program on the Health and Well-Being of Nurses Employed in a Corporate Setting, Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 2013;28:2, 107-133.


Star Tribune, “At the U, future doctors and nurses learning to treat patients with food,” January 2018