Dr. Yum Project
Spotsylvania, Virginia, USA
MissionThe Dr. Yum Project is on a mission to help families and communities overcome the barriers to eating well.
What We DoIn response to the growing rates of childhood obesity, pediatrician Nimali Fernando MD, MPH, fondly known as Dr. Yum, started the Dr. Yum website in 2011 to teach her patients and their families about the benefits of healthy eating. What started out as a recipe site and a few after-school cooking classes grew into a bigger project focused on identifying and helping communities overcome barriers to eating well.
In 2013, The Dr. Yum Project, a 501 (c)3 organization was born. In 2014, our teaching kitchen and garden were opened. This space serves as our hub for in-person teaching and our home base for outreach and virtual nutrition and cooking educational programs. In 2020 as COVID restrictions dictated a shift to virtual offerings, we pivoted and leveraged our most impactful programs, as described below, to better the lives and health outcomes for tens of thousands of families across the country each year.
What makes us unique?
Founded and led by a pediatrician, the Dr. Yum Project's programs are designed by and maintained by nutrition and cooking education experts, including physicians, early childhood educators, speech-language pathologists, feeding therapists, and registered dietitians.
We scale our programs by training early education teachers and directors, providing resources for physicians in general and specialty fields, and partnering with other nonprofits and community groups to leverage each organization's strengths to increase our reach and impact exponentially.
We accomplish our mission with the following programs:
Dr. Yum's Preschool Food Adventure is an evidence-based interactive curriculum designed to introduce preschoolers to the joy of eating fruits and vegetables. This curriculum was written by Nimali Fernando, MD, MPH, ("Dr. Yum") a pediatrician and founder of the nonprofit The Dr. Yum Project, and Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP ("Coach Mel"), a certified speech-language pathologist specialized in pediatric feeding and owner of My Munch Bug. Dr. Yum and Coach Mel are also co-authors of the award-winning book, Raising a Healthy, Happy Eater: A Parent's Handbook.
This 7th edition of our proven interactive curriculum features 24 lessons (which can be used over two years) presented by preschool teachers once a month. It is a flexible, multi-sensory, interactive nutrition and cooking curriculum with strong family involvement and research to prove it works. Many extension activities, which meet NAEYC standards, can be used to deepen the experience and familiarity with the new food through art, literacy, movement, music, science, and community connections. This curriculum now serves more than 15,000 students in 32 states, Australia, Canada, and Puerto Rico. That's double the number reached in 2021!
Dr. Yum's Food Adventure: Home Edition is an online one-year subscription program based on Dr. Yum's Preschool Food Adventure, introduces families to fruits and vegetables through monthly lessons with a sensory-based approach with cooking and other extension activities.
Physician Partner program, which educates and assists medical professionals in their efforts to help patients and their families understand the developmental aspects of feeding and trying new foods. As a part of these efforts, we have created a series of free anticipatory guidance handouts in collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America.
The Dr. Yum Project team engages with physicians and other healthcare providers locally and nationally at annual meetings like the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo annual meeting. We serve as a resource for nutrition and food education for professionals to use in counseling their clients and patients.
Our website, DoctorYum.org continues to be the ecosystem of supporting materials for preschool teachers and families, physicians and their patients and families, and the general public who can use our resources free of charge to help overcome the barriers to eating well. Highlights include our recipe catalog of over 220 recipes, many in both English and Spanish, Dr. Yum's Meal-o-Matic which allows users to make a custom recipe with what is available in the fridge or pantry, blogs and articles written by a variety of experts in nutrition, education, and medicine, printable downloads for families, physicians, and food distribution sites in English and Spanish and more.