Meet Molly: The Journey of a Teen Battle Chef
Molly Bhuiyan, a 10th grader at MCSM high school, was introduced to HealthCorps at her school in 2009-10. Just a freshman, she was a sponge for knowledge and excited to learn about new foods. She participated in both EatWise and Teen Battle Chef, as part of HealthCorps' many other offerings in her school.
Looking back at those early months of learning about nutrition, new and healthy fresh ingredients, she never would have thought she would be impacting an entire community over time. Molly’s tremendous impact began when our 2010 summer program mentors, Jessica Scheer and Hayden Maloney decided to take a chance on the zealous freshman, because of her infectious personality. Molly was assigned to work at the Ridgewood farmers market. There, she taught others how to use the produce and showed customers what delicious meals they could create with a few simple and healthy techniques. As a cooking demonstrator, she was so impressive that she was asked to attend the School Food Rocks conference being planned by one of the market regulars, who turned out to be a representative of the City Councilman Brad Lander’s district in Brooklyn.
Speaking on a panel at Mr. Lander’s School Food Rocks conference, Brad Lander's impression of youth as powerful messengers about healthy food was born. After speaking with her and learning about the Teen Battle Chef program, the Councilman decided to institute establish and foster a TBC program to benefit his district. His staff recruited and had trained knowledgeable and experienced educators in TBC, to run Teen Battle Chef in spring 2011 as a training ground for an even bigger initiative: the Kensington Youthmarket in partnership with Grow NYC and FamilyCook Productions!
The first six Kensington TBC students ran the most successful new Youthmarket in the history of the program this summer in Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn. For the first time, the residents in the neighborhood could buy fresh vegetables without a hike way outside their neighborhood. In addition, they were also taught how to use the produce, learning to create meals from the food and cooking-savvy Teen Battle Chefs, just as Molly did had done at Ridgewood. Molly’s enthusiasm and passion for her customers health and well-being was the catalyst to an entire neighborhood’s new resource and growing youth food movement.