The award-winning documentary, The Kitchenistas, follows the lives of women leading a movement in Southern California to reconnect their community to healthy, traditional foods.

Women receive the title Kitchenista when they graduate from Cooking for Salud, a bilingual culinary program at Olivewood Gardens in National City, California. Olivewood Gardens is a nonprofit dedicated to garden and nutrition education. They initially designed Cooking for Salud to help women bring healthy whole food cooking into their homes.

The Kitchenistas actively engage with their community through events and by speaking at local government meetings to address National City’s high rates of obesity and diabetes. San Diego County, which encompasses National City, estimates that more than one in three children in the county are overweight or obese and half of the adult population are prediabetic.

Cooking for Salud participants obtain a deeper understanding of food when they emerge as Kitchenistas. They learn, through experience, what makes food healthy and develop confidence to navigate the use of new ingredients and new techniques alongside traditional ones. The film provides a glimpse of the eight-week course which includes tutorials from professional chefs, nutrition classes led by an in-house doctor, and training on public speaking and advocacy.

One of the women the film follows is Patty Corona, Director of Cooking for Salud and Kitchenista from the program’s first graduating class. “Our mission as Kitchenistas after we finish the program is to go out into the community and share what we learned in the program with the people we love,” Corona tells Food Tank. She goes on to explain that “this program teaches you to have a better relationship with food, to learn what you are eating and beyond traditional cooking methods…is love, support, the role model, the sisterhood and all the challenges that all of us graduates face when we want to start making changes at home.”

Read the full article about community health by Jonathan Ribich at Food Tank.