Children are ‘hopping’ with excitement as they learn how to prepare meals from a giant talking frog.
Partnered with City Harvest, American Heart Association, Police Athletic League and Citizens Committee for New York City, the amphibian shares in these organizations’ mission in improving resources in low-income communities where healthy food is rarely accessible and residents often suffer from high rates of diet-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity and asthma.
Influenced by Barney the Dinosaur and Dora the Explorer, this health/wellness company utilizes a fun, family friendly mascot in teaching children the importance of building healthy habits through cooking and nutrition classes.
The six-foot tall mascot, Coqui the Chef, is a master of the culinary arts who teaches young cooks and their families how to prepare healthier meals using ingredients from their kitchen.
His skills extend beyond the kitchen as he is also fluent in English, Spanish and Spanglish, according to Tania Lopez, founder and chief executive officer, Coqui the Chef’s ‘Summer Cooking Camp for Kids’.
She said the character of Coqui the Chef was created as a way to inspire her family to eat more healthily and he originally began life as a cartoon.
Drawing inspiration from her culture, Lopez explained Coqui’s namesake comes from a species of frog endemic to Puerto Rico whose unique croaks are considered by many natives as music to their ears.
The class is held every Friday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. to teach children smarter cooking and dietary habits, and collaborates with organizations such as schools, churches and centers who are willing to hold cooking classes there.
Lopez explained these classes begin with students identifying ingredients they recognize and sharing what they already know about them.
Afterwards, educators further elaborate on these ingredients and explain their nutritional values to the students.
“It’s a really rewarding experience seeing their eyes light up and then being so proud of the meals they have created,” she expressed.
A cooking show ‘Cooking with Coqui the Chef’, can be viewed on YouTube by children who cannot attend class, but still wish to participate it this experience.
Recently, the company established an Indiegogo campaign ‘Kids Cooking for a Brighter Future’ which seeks to raise $10,000 by Monday, July 27 for in-person and online cooking and nutrition classes for children and their families.
The money raised aids in funding recipe ingredients, kitchen tools, chef clothing, educational materials, trips to farms and professional filming of all classes for online sharing via social media.
In the last few years, Coqui’s work in promoting healthy lifestyles has been recognized through a series of awards and grants which include the 2015 Osborn Elliot Award for Community Service from Citizens Committee for New York City, the 2013 Award of Appreciation from the South Bronx Police Athletic League for cooking initiatives, the 2012 and 2013 Citizens Committee for New York City Neighborhood Grant, the 2012 American Heart Association New York City Community Impact Grant and were declared the 2012 Guest of Honor at the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
If interested in participating and for more information about Coqui the Chef, contact (347) 692-8102 or visit www.coqui