Dinner: IS Possible was founded in 2006 by Tim Mehne after working with a group of inner-city youth at an urban outreach youth summer camp. Since he was a chef, Tim was asked to grill 100 steaks for the kids on the last day of camp. Afterwards, they all asked “Chef Tim, when you gonna teach us how to cook steaks like that”? Soon after camp ended, they met weekly at The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in the Third Ward neighborhood of Houston and started cooking together. “Chef Tim” quickly realized that he needed to take this opportunity to teach them healthier ways of cooking their favorite indigenous foods as long as he was going to teach them how to cook anyway. The objectives of the cooking program were:
#1: Cooking: To teach youth how to cook the foods that they were familiar with in a healthier way, by substituting some of the ingredients that are not so healthy with ingredients that are much healthier, yet producing the same great tastes that they are accustomed to. Next the youth are introduced to new foods that are helathy, flavorful and “kid-friendly”.
#2: Family Meal Time: To inspire youth to bring these recipes to their homes, cook them together with their family, and help instill the theory that “Dinner IS Possible” with the whole family each and every night, and that food can be flavorful and healthy all at the same time.
#3: Urgent Health Issues: To educate youth on how they can avoid urgent health issues, i.e. obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart conditions, etc. through what they eat as well as the very important need to exercise on a regular basis.
As the students and Chef Tim all gathered around the “prep table” at the weekly cooking classes, they all began to talk and get to know one another….and then the kids started to open up and talk about various things in their lives. This is when the “Life Mentoring Program” started.