Lifespan Community Affairs

Community Demonstration Kitchen

Things are cooking at Lifespan's new Community Demonstration Kitchen.

The culinary space in South Providence opened in the summer of 2017 to bring together culinary and health experts to show residents from the surrounding community how to escape poor eating habits by cooking and eating healthy food.

Test kitchen
Mary Flynn, PhD, a dietician with The Miriam Hospital, speaks to those who attended the open house for the Community Demonstration Kitchen.

The kitchen was inspired by the many years that renowned dietician Mary Flynn, PhD, has spent researching and developing healthy and affordable ways to eat better, especially for people with such chronic illnesses as diabetes and heart disease.

Flynn, who is with The Miriam Hospital and Brown University, has long been touting the benefits of a diet rich in olive oil and increases the consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A 2016 study found that her diet is actually cheaper than the most economical recommendations for healthy eating from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Flynn has long partnered with a variety of institutions -- including Brown University, the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Food Bank -- to teach people how to make her healthy recipes through her "Food is Medicine" program. But she was thrilled when the Lifespan Community Health Institute embraced the opening of a permanent kitchen in South Providence that could draw people from the area for its family nutrition classes.

Classes were previously held in a space in the institute's building at 335R Prairie Avenue that had very limited equipment. But thanks to a grant from the Miriam Hospital Foundation, that room has been renovated into a kitchen whose centerpiece is a large, tall table on wheels with a mirror suspended above it for better viewing of cooking demonstrations.

"This is a big step up," Carrie Bridges Feliz, director of the Lifespan Community Health Institute. “It will help serve folks in need while improving the health and well-being of the communities that Lifespan serves."

The programming is a partnership among Lifespan, the University of Rhode Island and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program of the USDA.