The Why Behind 18 Reasons: Making Healthy Cooking More Approachable

18 Reasons, Cook

18 Reasons Executive Director Sarah Nelson and 18 Reasons Program Manager Briana Tejuco setting the table.


As part of our Open Kitchen Conversation Series, we sat down with 18 Reasons, the San Francisco-based non-profit providing free six-week cooking and nutrition courses to low-income families through its partnership with the national organization, Cooking Matters.



“Cooking Matters is a hands-on cooking course where families and kids can come and to cook nutritious food together, learn about budgeting, healthy shopping, and just come together as a community — preparing healthy food together,” says Briana Tejuco, the Program Manager for 18 Reasons. 

Making Healthy Cooking Approachable


The outcome has proven to be powerful. “I think that sometimes initially people come into the first class afraid even to pick up a knife, not knowing where to start,” says Sarah Nelson, Executive Director at 18 Reasons. “But after a six-week course we can see people more confident in their ability to cook healthy food for themselves,”

People often think that healthy eating requires a lot of time and money but, ultimately, graduates from the program realize that healthy cooking is something they can actually do — that it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to eat more nutritiously.

The Power of Volunteers

The backbone of the 18 Matters program are its volunteers, who help make the program welcoming and inviting. “One of our core values is heart, and we believe that service and community and love and welcoming is at the heart of everything we do,” says Nelson. “Together our volunteers and Cooking Matters participants cook a healthy meal and then sit back and enjoy the work,” adds Tejuco. Food is the vehicle for bringing people together, for creating community.

Watch the video for the full conversation about 18 Reasons and bringing healthy cooking to low-income communities:

Learn more about Williams Sonoma’s Open Kitchen Conversation series here.

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