Houston teacher fights obesity, earns laurels from superchef Jamie Oliver's revolution army
Through the years, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has become the voice of the Food Revolution, a movement that seeks to transform the way people eat through educational programs, activities and advocacy. He's used his name and image to change how Americans view food.
As part of his initiative, he also takes it upon himself to spotlight the work of those he refers to as Food Revolution Heroes. These champs are those who embody the spirit of the Food Revolution, those who combine their own passions and expertise to educate others about fresh, healthy food.
Furthering his new Get Food Education in Every School campaign, Oliver has just announced his latest group of heroes. One of them — Kellie Karavias — is a Houston local.
Before becoming HISD's first elementary culinary arts educator, Karavias, today a teacher at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center, watched as obesity and health problems in schools spiraled out of control. When there wasn't a viable solution readily available, she created one.
The team was so impressed with Karavias' stellar work ethic that the members also nominated her as a Food Revolution Hero.
During the past 10 years, Karavias has designed and implemented "seed to plate" programs at Sylvan Rodriguez and Eleanor Tinsley elementaries, won $30,000 in grants from Hidden Valley Ranch, appeared on The Cooking Channel and sealed school partnerships with Urban Harvest and Whole Foods Market.
Karavias has worked with obesity experts at Texas Children's Hospital, created the largest school garden in the city, brought nationally acclaimed chef Ann Cooper to Houston for a forum on the School Lunch Revolution, facilitated a student-led booth at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market and even established parent/family cooking classes to ensure that her students' education was reinforced at home.
Still, the tireless educator says that she was "surprised and thrilled" when Oliver's team contacted her this summer.
Food Revolution had heard of her work from The Lunch Tray blog. Officials from the health squad called her to discuss their mutual vision of improving food education and to ask her to join a committee to expand programs like hers to every school. The team was so impressed with Karavias' stellar work ethic that the members also nominated her as a Food Revolution Hero.
Oliver's team is not the first to make note of Karavias' flourishing work.
Last year, Alice Waters (of the famed Chez Panisse restaurant) invited Karavias to her renowned Edible Schoolyard Project. Waters then extended an invitation to cook in her kitchen for a three-day stint. More recently, Food Network's chef Anne Burrell visited Karavias at school via the Partnerships for a Healthier America. Karavias and her students cooked for her, motivating Burrell to represent Gregory-Lincoln in the Great School Challenge against chef Jose Garces. Her gold-star reputation, it seems, is growing.
Ready to be inspired? Check out Karavias' beautiful blog, Pitchforks, Plates, & Pencils, to see the amazing work she and her kiddos are doing at Gregory-Lincoln and across HISD.