Fresh Finds: Tamika’s School of Epicure teaches children healthy eating options

A local cooking school aimed at teaching children how to choose and create healthier meals is our latest Fresh Find.

Each week, we team up with Blue Zones Project Jacksonville to find fresh and local options.

At Tamika’s School of Epicure, they’re promoting a healthier lifestyle early.

Owner Tamika Wolfe says you’re never too young or old to make a change. A life-changing diagnosis motivated her to live a healthier lifestyle, and now, she helps Duval County children do the same.

Wolfe spends every week combining her two passions: mentoring young people and cooking.

She owns and operates Tamika’s School of Epicure, where her goal is to empower children to have a healthy and fun relationship with cooking.

“I developed this love of cooking when I was in ninth grade. My sister and I tried to prepare a meal and my meal was to cook rice, and my rice turned out to look like grit,” Wolfe said. “So I knew that there are other kids that are dealing with the same challenges, and I wanted to give back to each of those youth.”

Wolfe started the school three years ago. Each week, she teaches 30 children how to make healthy foods that are also flavorful.

Her focus is reaching children who don’t have access to healthier options.

“A lot of our youth are in single-parent homes, or they’re living with their grandparents because their parents are incarcerated,” Wolfe said. “A lot of youth in our program are in foster care. So how do we help them? How do we make them better so that they can prepare for adulthood with the skills that are being taught in Tamika’s School of Epicure?”

Wolfe’s students say taking her class and sharing new recipes with their families is one of the highlights of their week..

“We’ve been trying to cook new stuff at home because we were planning on trying to be more healthy because stuff runs in my family and obviously you have to make sure the same stuff doesn’t happen to you,” said Jasha Bass, a high school freshman.

Senior Camari Gardner said she enjoyed making salmon with rice and pomegranate sauce.

“I loved that. It was so good. And broccoli on the side, it was amazing,” Gardner said.

A life-changing diagnosis is the main reason for the types of food Wolfe puts on her plate.

“For me personally, in 2016, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I knew a change had to be made,” Wolfe said.

She wants to inspire other people to make that change through her partnership with the Blue Zones Project Jacksonville.

“We actually give the youth purpose when it comes to being able to eat healthy. They’re able to function properly in school. They can do their tests. They can have energy. Their mood swings change when they eat healthy. I am grateful to partner with Blue Zones so we can implement this throughout Duval County,” Wolfe said. “I want to continue being a role model for them, showing them that no matter what obstacles you are faced with, you can do it. And you can live a healthier life.”

Before students start each class, they begin with a short, 10-minute workout to also help promote a healthy lifestyle.

Tamika’s School of Epicure is always accepting donations to help keep the program going.

The Blue Zones project is encouraging everyone to take the Blue Zones Pledge because living a healthier lifestyle is easier than you think.

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