December 20, 2023 • In the News

On Thursday, December 14, GreenRoots, a community-based organization dedicated to improving and enhancing the urban environment and public health in Chelsea, East Boston and beyond, celebrated the grand opening of the “Teaching Kitchen,” a new space created by Chelsea residents to make and share food in the way they enjoy most – as an exchange of recipes and cultures that builds healthier communities.

Seeking to capture the flavors and traditions of the ethnically diverse communities represented in the city, the Kitchen will be a first-of-its-kind space in Chelsea. It will offer a place to gather as well as inclusive cooking, health, and wellness programming.

“As we prepare to celebrate GreenRoots’ 30th anniversary in 2024, the teaching kitchen is a testament to what we’ve been striving towards for years,” said Roseann Bongiovanni, Executive Director at GreenRoots. “Over the past three decades, to combat health disparities and reverse years of environmental degradation and toxic pollution, we have transformed urban land into lush growing spaces where fruit, vegetables and herbs have nourished our community.  These growing spaces were incredibly important during the pandemic.  Now, our Teaching Kitchen will further our environmental justice and health equity goals.”

Community members unveiling mosaics at GreenRoots' Teaching Kitchen opening.

The Teaching Kitchen is directly adjacent to two of GreenRoots’ six growing spaces, providing an urban “farm to table” concept. GreenRoots’ Urban Farm offered fresh, healthy produce to 60 families weekly during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was incredibly important as Chelsea was one of the hardest-hit cities in the nation, with some of the highest infection rates per capita.

GreenRoots developed the teaching kitchen to be a fossil fuel-free building. The community largely informed the kitchen design and programming through meetings, workshops, and other engagements where people came together to discuss their vision and need for the space.

The Kitchen was funded through a $1.05 million grant from Mass General Brigham, part of a larger community investment focused on chronic disease management, nutrition security, and mental health.  In the future, the goal is for community members visiting The Kitchen to  have the opportunity to get their blood pressure checked, be screened for diabetes, and partake in regular wellness workshops.

“Access to nutritious, affordable, culturally relevant food plays a critical role in overall health and  the management of chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes.” said Elsie Taveras, MD, MPH, Chief Community Health and Health Equity Officer.  “Mass General Brigham is committed to eliminating health disparities in the communities we serve, and nutrition-equity focused initiatives like the Green Teaching Kitchen are poised to deliver tangible, measurable impact.” 

The Kitchen also received contributions from Eastern Salt Company, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 35, Home Décor Group and more.

The grand opening held Thursday, December 14, featured cooking demonstrations by Chefs Jose Duarte and Charlton Becker, both Chelsea residents, locally made foods, and the unveiling of a mosaic designed by Chelsea residents. Formal programming will begin in January.

GreenRoots is a women-led, resident-led, community-based organization whose mission is to achieve environmental justice and greater quality of life through collective action, unity, education and youth leadership across neighborhoods and communities. GreenRoots began as a grassroots committee in 1994; grew into a formal program; and spun off into an independent organization in 2016 with the goal of more intentionally addressing root causes of environmental injustice.  In our almost 30-year track record, we have achieved major accomplishments towards healthier and more just neighborhoods in Chelsea and East Boston.