The Teaching Kitchen

500

People served since joining the TKC

This Triple Threat of a Hospital Teaching Kitchen, Pantry, and Rooftop Farm Sustains Health Through Food 

Boston Medical Center (BMC) understands that food is medicine, and that eating healthy can be tough with a busy schedule on a tight budget. So, it launched a triumvirate of food is medicine initiatives: a Preventive Food Pantry with medically and culturally appropriate food, a Rooftop Farm with fresh produce, and a Teaching Kitchen for culinary skills and nutrition education. 

The teaching kitchen hosts an average of 25 classes a month. Its medically tailored classes aim to prevent and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, chronic pain, substance use disorder, bariatric weight loss surgery management and more. Community classes offer culinary skills for staff during their lunch hour, people in the refugee program, students in Boston Public Schools, and the families of patients and staff. The BMC teaching kitchen also reaches Boston University staff to support wellness and Boston University’s Medical School students to introduce them to culinary medicine.

BMC is a leader in healthcare systems, showing that not only does it need to diagnose, treat, and manage disease—it must center preventive health around food.

Snapshot

Key Demographics
The hospital serves a racially diverse community experiencing disproportionately high rates of poverty.

Non-Hispanic White/ Other

47%

Black

23%

Latino

20%

Asian

10%
Quick Facts

3

Registered Dietitians

Built-in kitchen in a hospital setting

IMPACT

I have become more mindful in the way I communicate with others about food and weight loss. I will now strategize to reinforce more positivity when having difficult conversations with people around food.

CME participant

Publications

Weinstein O, Donovan K, McCarthy A, Hiralall L, Allen L, Koh W, Apovian C. Nourishing Underserved Populations Despite Scarcer Resources: Adaptations of an Urban Safety Net Hospital During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Am J Public Health. 2021 Apr;111(4)663-666. 

Musicus A, Vercammen K, Fulay A, Moran A, Burg T, Allen L, Maffeo D, Berger A, Rimm E. Implementation of a Rooftop Farm Integrated With a Teaching Kitchen and Preventive Food Pantry in a Hospital Setting. Am J Public Health. 2019;109:1119-1121.

Press

Eating Well, “This Hospital’s Rooftop Farm Grows 5,000 Pounds of Produce Annually,” May 2021

OurFood.World, “Food Is Medicine Field Studies: Teaching Kitchens,” 2019

NPR Living on Earth Podcast, “Hospital Farming for Better Health,” July 2018

News Boston, “Boston Medical Center’s rooftop farm providing fresh produce to patients, community,” June 2018

US News & World Report, “Cooking Classes Aim to Restore Health After Addiction,” April 2018

Mother Jones, “As Diet-Related Illnesses Surge, a New Kind of Pharmacy Dispenses Fruit and Vegetables,” December 2017

USA Today, “Not a fan of hospital food? Hospitals are working to change that by growing their own produce,” October 2017