Common Threads: The Power of Using Food for Change and Education

“We all know when we eat well we feel better.  We have the energy to rock it out!”

Linda Novick O’Keefe, Founding CEO of Common Threads


Over 16 million children in the United States experience hunger.  Common Threads is helping lead the way to empower and educate children across the country.  Recently, Linda Novick O’Keefe, the founding CEO of Common Threads joined Chef Jaime Laurita and me for a Kitchen Chat in the Middleby Residential Showroom in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart. Linda shared with us her passion for educating school age children on how to prepare healthy affordable meals.  She also discussed how Chef Art Smith (Oprah’s award-winning personal chef) experienced the power of bringing people to the table while cooking for families impacted after 9/11 in New York City. They felt the power of using food for change and education. Common Threads was born as a result of the experiences with these families in need.

                                                        My first photo with Chef Art Smith over seven years ago

Common Threads is a school and community based program that teaches kids how to: Plan the meals; Purchase the ingredients; and Prepare healthy meals for a family of four in 30 minutes. The children are also encouraged to expand their palates with international cuisine.  Linda shares how the students board an imaginary plane to a destination that one week may teach them how to cook a Senegalize stew or the next an authentic Ragu. Common Threads is currently in 13 different markets empowering children with the ability to eat healthy and affordable meals. Partnering with Northwestern Medical students, Common Threads bring the medical community into the classroom to teach the children how important the right fuel for the body is.

Foodie friends, here are some great ways to get involved with this impactful organization.  Common Threads is launching “Chef Takeover” where Chefs are collaborating to create a themed meal, a silent auction and a special musical performance all to benefit the charity. This will take place in  Austin, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Chicago.  Also, potential sponsors, please reach out to Linda.  Your efforts will help Common Threads teach children to live happier, healthier lives.

Savor the day!