Helping Hand


Helping Hand

Bill Telepan, Nancy Easton, Steve Weatherford at WITS 2014 Annual Benefit. Photo courtesy of Wellness in the Schools.

Children are the adults of the future. They should be well educated, well fed, healthy and environmentally conscious. This Organization, Wellness in the Schools, has devoted itself to this endeavor. I first learned about this cause when I was at one of my favorite and neighborhood restaurants, Telepan. It was there that Chef/Owner Bill Telepan enthusiastically told me about his involvement with this Organization. I invite you to please read below, visit their website and lend a “Helping Hand” in any way that you can.

Wellness in the Schools was founded in 2005 by a group of concerned Parents in the New York City School system. Since then WITS programs serve approximately 30,000 public school children across New York City, Kentucky, and Florida. The three main focuses of the Organization are: Cook for Kids, Coach for Kids and Green for Kids.

Wellness in the Schools was the brainchild of Executive Director, Nancy Easton, who holds a Masters in Education, was a former New York City: Teacher, Mentor and Principal. She is also a Marathoner, Tri-Athlete, Ironman, Certified in Integrative Nutrition and Mother of three. Having worked for the New York City Department of Education for over 15 years, it was Nancy Easton’s first hand experience with the lack of Nutrition, Physical Fitness and Environmental Awareness, which was the impetus for this organization’s inception.

“Based on the overwhelming body of research showing that poverty and obesity are linked, WITS focuses its work in NYC public schools with a poverty level of 70% or higher. By directly engaging students around healthy eating and fitness WITS is able to create a ripple effect into the larger community: students who work with WITS cooks and coaches bring that knowledge home with them, sharing with their friends, family, and neighbors.” From Wellness in the Schools website.

Bill Telepan is the representative for Cook for Kids. In 2008 Chef Bill Telepan joined Wellness in the Schools as Executive Chef for The Cook for Kids Program. Bill Telepan is one of the forerunners and pioneers of Green Market and Farm to Table Cooking. His Michelin Star awarded Restaurant Telepan is one of New York City’s top Restaurants. As Executive Chef of Wellness in the Schools, Bill Telepan works with WITS in Residence Cooks to make school food healthier and more delicious by:

“Developing nutritious school menus, training cafeteria workers and teaching culinary and nutrition concepts to students, parents and teachers. Bill’s daughter Leah, a student at PS-87, inspired him to join WITS and makes healthy school food a cause that he holds close to his heart. In 2009, as part of his work with WITS, Bill was selected to First Lady Michelle Obama’s initial Taskforce to launch the Chef’s Move to Schools initiative.” From Wellness in the Schools website.

New York Giants Punter Steve Weatherford represents Coach for Kids This program is designed to:

“Create special Play Days for students, where Fitness Partners show off their unique skill sets by leading students in special games and activities. Students are further empowered and supported during recess by WITS’ anti-bullying initiatives. These initiatives are an active part of both recess and class time and are emphasized in our elective class, “Power Play”, which is offered at select sites. Coach for Kids teaches students to exercise in a safe and fun way, to work together in teams and to develop pro-social behaviors that help them navigate the social and emotional landscape of school.”

From Wellness in the Schools website.

Stephen Ritz (the Bronx Green Machine) represents Green for Kids.

“The WITS founding program, originally launched in partnership with the New York City Department of Education to remove toxic chemicals from schools and later incorporated into an organizational ethos after the city passed legislation protecting schoolchildren from toxic chemical use. Through Green for Kids, WITS promotes the use of bio-based, effective cleaning products that are not harmful to children or the environment. Additionally, WITS supports school efforts to become more sustainable through energy reduction, garden building, recycling, and composting programs.” From Wellness in the Schools website.

For more detailed information, how to get involved, and how to donate to this amazing Organization please got to: