BOSTON, November 7, 2016 — Oldways’ A Taste of African Heritage program (ATOAH) is finishing off a successful year with a total of 31 class series taught at 22 locations throughout Philadelphia — breaking the program’s record for the highest volume of classes held in one city within a single year. By using cooking classes to connect participants to their culinary heritage, ATOAH empowers participants to improve their health, and the health of their families.

This record number of classes is thanks, in part, to an exciting new partnership between Oldways and The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center. As the first ATOAH location to successfully implement a sustainable model for the program, The Free Library will provide the framework and inspiration necessary for Oldways to replicate this model in new sites nationwide, bringing the individual and collective benefits of this program to more communities. The library has just concluded its 2016 programming, and is already making preparations for more ATOAH classes in early 2017.

“It has been great to co-create sustainable programming in Philadelphia with amazing sites that also desire to help improve the nutrition and health of people of African descent in the local community,” said Sade Anderson, Oldways’ African Heritage & Health program manager and African Diaspora Specialist. “Philadelphia as a city seems to be ahead of the curve with regards to supporting health and nutrition initiatives and we hope this trend continues nationwide.”

At a time when African American health disparities are frequently reported in the news, ATOAH works to reverse that trend with its solutions-based, hands-on design. The program, which is supported nationally by a grant from the Walmart Foundation, focuses on all the health benefits and delicious foods that are part of African heritage. The classes help to instill cooking confidence, basic skills, and enjoyment as motivators for preparing home-cooked meals on a regular basis. As a whole, Oldways’ ATOAH program has never been stronger — since 2012 more than 2,400 students have taken ATOAH in close to 100 locations across the country.

The most amazing aspect of ATOAH is its proven power to incite change. Oldways has found, through carefully gathered metrics, that most participants lose weight and inches off their waistlines. Most students also report, well after the series ends, sustaining the positive lifestyle changes taught in the class — such as eating more plant-based foods and cooking at home.

“We have 15 to 20 adults that come out for each class — consistency like that for library programming is remarkable,” said Elizabeth Fitzgerald, The Free Library’s Culinary Literacy Center administrator. “It’s important for us to be able to offer this high quality program for free … We are so excited to have Philadelphia as a hub city for the program, and to help expand the program with Oldways into our neighborhood libraries.”

With a fully established sustainable site, the Oldways team approaches 2017 with a goal of bringing The Free Library’s ATOAH model to more US cities that desperately need these educational and life-changing classes. To learn more about Oldways’ A Taste of African Heritage, please visit Oldways’ website or watch this short informational video about the program; to see some of the recipes from the class, view a recent Oldways Instagram post.

Please contact Oldways PR & Media Manager, Ashley Owen (617-896-4888 or, to learn more about this program, remaining Philadelphia-area classes for 2016, or if you would like to attend a class.

About Oldways

Oldways ( is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to inspire healthy eating through cultural food traditions and lifestyles. Simply, Oldways advocates for the healthful pleasures of real food. Oldways programs include the Whole Grains Council, Cheese Coalition, Mediterranean Foods Alliance, African Heritage & Health, Supermarket Dietitian Symposium, Nutrition Exchange, and Culinary Travel. The organization is known for creating the Whole Grain Stamp and the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid.