Cottage Hospital's executive Chef Pedro Garcia entrances the Promatores with tales from the kitchen

On Wednesday, May 1, Orfalea Foundation School Food Initiative Chef Instructors launched the first of four all-day trainings for twenty-six Santa Barbara County community health workers known as Promotores.

Managed by the Health Linkages Program through the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department and the SBCEO, the Promotores de Salud program trains volunteers in the Latino community as peer health partners who, in turn, raise awareness of childhood obesity, improve health literacy, increase access to health services for underserved families, and enhance the overall health and well-being in the Latino community. All Promotores attend a 40-hour training program focused on a variety of health needs. One Promotora or Promotoro may provide peer-to-peer nutrition counseling, outreach and health education to as many as 200 families in a month. Currently, the program includes 52 members and serves 7000 individuals in Santa Barbara County.

The School Food Initiative’s first training with the Promotores began at Santa Barbara’s Westside Community Center with a discussion of healthful menu planning, the importance of food literacy, strategies for smart shopping, and the power of modeling behavior. The group then traveled to Santa Barbara’s Cottage Hospital, where hospitality director Ruben Cosio, Chef Pedro Garcia, and dietician Courtney Robinson discussed their commitment to the health advantages of scratch cooking from fresh, local ingredients. Chef Garcia sealed the deal by serving a lunch that looked and tasted a lot more like spa cuisine than hospital fare.


Since Cottage Hospital also hosts its own farmers’ market,  the class divided into groups for a budgeting and shopping exercise.


Back at The Westside Community Center, the group viewed excerpts from the award-winning PBS film, Nourish, and then participated in a side-by-side tasting of natural and artificially flavored foods. We concluded the day with healthful snacks prepared by Chef Instructors using ingredients from our Cottage Hospital farmers’ market outing.

promatores de salud afternoon snack

Special thanks to:

Next week: Knife skills and kitchen math!

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