Years before Juneteenth became a nationally recognized holiday or a Netﬂix series explored African heritage cuisine, African Americans around the country began reclaiming their health using the wisdom of their ancestors through a ground-breaking six-week cooking and nutrition program called A Taste of African Heritage.
African Americans are too often told that the foods they grew up eating are unhealthy and that poor health is a part of their heritage. A Taste of African Heritage ﬂips the script by celebrating and reclaiming the often-unsung heritage of healthy eating for people of African descent, a diet abundant in greens, fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and other plant-based foods. In each class, students learn about culinary history, traditional foods, and nutrition, and they participate in cooking demonstrations and food tastings. The six-week, group-learning model helps create a supportive social environment and positive weekly routine.
Never before had something quite like this been tried on a national model. Over the past decade, A Taste of African Heritage has grown in a grassroots fashion, attracting interest from national SNAP-Ed implementing agencies and local community groups alike.
To celebrate this important anniversary, we are looking back at the accomplishments of the past 10 years, and looking ahead to all that we hope to accomplish.
Over the Past 10 Years
- A Taste of African Heritage has been taught in more than 100 cities, in 26 states and Washington, D.C.
- It was admitted to the SNAP-Ed Library in 2018, and in 2022, to the SNAP-Ed Toolkit
- Results from A Taste of African Heritage were published in a peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior in 2022. The study shows that participants of A Taste of African Heritage signiﬁcantly increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and greens; increased weekly exercise frequency; decreased weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure; and found that 98% of participants reported heritage as a motivator for eating and living well.
- Stories about A Taste of African Heritage and the African Heritage Diet have been published in U.S. News & World Report, NPR, The Washington Post, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, and in many more publications.
- An e-course version of the class is available to all!
Participants in A Taste of African Heritage
- 32% of participants report eating more leafy greens and vegetables
- 33% report eating more whole grains
- 30% report an increase in exercise
- 16% reduced their blood pressure by a full stage
- 61% lost weight
- 54% lost inches from their waist
Looking to the Future
Our next goal is to bring A Taste of African Heritage to all 50 U.S. states! Can you help us?
Everyone can teach A Taste of African Heritage—you don’t need to be a teacher, chef, or dietitian.
Our on-demand (1-hour) teaching training webinar will give you the background information you need to know to conﬁdently teach this course. Lesson plans have easily-followed, step-by-step guides for preparing and teaching.
Teaching a class series is a wonderful way to bring a community together, share food and recipes, and learn and share about African heritage and culinary history. Classes are often taught in libraries, churches, community centers, senior centers, farmer’s markets, and more.
Thank you, Ambassadors!
The A Taste of African Heritage Ambassadors—a network longtime of teachers and supporters—have been instrumental to the program’s success. We are forever grateful for their passion and dedication to celebrating culture, food, and health. Their constant support and enthusiasm has made the past 10 years possible.
We would like to extend a special thank you to the ambassadors who have been with our program since day one:
- Danessa Bolling
- Carrye Brown
- Tiﬀany Davis
- Dejenaba Gordon, MPH
- Adante Hart, MPH, RD
- Selas Kidane
- Benita Law-Diao
- Angela Ledyard
- Gail Thorpe
- Lorri Wilson
With their support, this program grew to amazing heights! We extend our thanks as well to Sarah Dwyer McMackin, who was the ﬁrst program manager for Oldways’ African Heritage & Health activities, and who helped create A Taste of African Heritage curriculum.
In addition, our wonderful expert panel and advisors—scientists, dietitians, and experts in African culinary history—helped design and shape our curriculum. Their work was, and remains, essential to our program.
We extend many thanks to all of the African Heritage & Health program managers:
Have a question about A Taste of African Heritage?
We would love to speak with you! Please contact Sarah Anderson, Heritage Diet Curriculum Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org (617)-896-4880; Kelly LeBlanc, Director of Nutrition, at email@example.com, (617) 896-4884; or Adante Hart, Outreach Dietitian, at firstname.lastname@example.org