Known to many as a SF-based cooking school, nonprofit 18 Reasons has a bigger mission: increasing food security in the Bay Area through the power of home cooking. In our modern food environment, access to nutritious food is not enough. Food skills education helps people make informed choices about what to buy and how to make healthy meals – but is not always taught in homes or schools. 18 Reasons bridges this gap through hands-on classes that welcome community members of all skill levels and culinary heritages.
For fifteen years, our programming has proven that home cooking and a balanced diet can improve our quality of life. And doctors are taking note – prescribing nutritious food is quickly becoming a complement to certain medications. 18 Reasons is paving the way for the integration of food and healthcare, as medical providers refer patients to our free programming.
Food As Medicine (FAM) is an online nutrition and medical intervention series for participants with poorly controlled diabetes and – new in 2023 – pediatric obesity. Doctors prescribe our cooking classes to give patients the knowledge, skills, and confidence to manage their chronic condition using nutritious food.
Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness is a frightening entry into the unknown. To manage chronic illnesses like diabetes, patients are told to change their diet and lifestyles – often without a clear path for how to make these changes. Food, previously a source of joy, can become a sense of dread, anxiety, and fear of a flavorless future. Our programming proves to patients that dietary changes are both doable and delicious.
FAM receives state funding and works with county health agencies, positioning 18 Reasons as a leader in the growing food as medicine movement. Doctors are tracking participants’ metabolic data as part of the program, and finding significant reductions in participants’ blood sugar, A1C levels, and weight.
A chronic condition that many birthers face is racism which drastically impacts maternal and infant health outcomes. Our innovative 16-week program, Nourishing Pregnancy, serves Black and Latinx birthing parents during the last months of pregnancy and first months postpartum. Participants take prenatal cooking and nutrition education classes, postpartum support classes, and build relationships and support networks that will last beyond pregnancy.
Nourishing Pregnancy’s team of Black and Latinx maternal care specialists create a ‘love bubble’, a safe space that disrupts the discrimination found in white-dominated medical settings. Healthcare providers, doulas, and social services organizations refer birthers to our critical and innovative program.
Where We’re Headed
18 Reasons looks to 2024 with ambition and optimism as we expand the breadth of our FAM programming to additional diagnoses – potentially including adult obesity, gestational diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and congestive heart failure. Nourishing Pregnancy will also expand in 2024 to support birthers with gestational diabetes through state-funded medically prescribed meals.
We invite you to follow our trailblazing work at the intersection of food and healthcare – and to get involved. Visit our website at 18reasons.org to learn more about taking a class, volunteering, and supporting food security in the Bay Area.
This story was paid for by 18 Reasons. Edible San Francisco relies on the support from advertising partners like 18 Reasons, who share our vision and want to see the Bay Area’s local food community grow and flourish.