Desert Companion

Create a Change: 'We want to get families back to the dinner table'

Ask your kids where carrots come from, and we bet you ten bucks they say a carrot factory. Consider it a symptom of an era when agribusiness and grocery megachains have turned sustenance into a global cash machine - one that contributes to childhood obesity. The solution, according to Candace Maddin and daughter Tiffany Twohig? Get the kids back to the land - literally. Their nonprofit, Create a Change Now, works with local schools and star chefs to teach kids to grow, harvest and cook their own food. "We want to empower and educate children to make healthier food choices," says Executive Director Twohig, who's been volunteering for a veritable alphabet soup of kid-oriented nonprofits since she was toting a Trapper Keeper herself. Meanwhile, Maddin's got the celebrity chef connection. Her husband, Jimmy Maddin, is CEO of Chef Live Media. "There are lots of nutrition programs for kids out there," says Create's co-founder and President Maddin. "What makes ours different is the award-winning chefs." It's pretty elementary: kids x (healthy food + cooking lessons) = better eating habits for life. For the healthy food part, Twohig and Maddin turned where all the big-name chefs are turning lately: edible gardens. Kids in the program learn to make dinner - really make it, from planting the seeds to pulling the veggies from the ground to plating up the meal. Alexander Dawson School, Elaine Wynn Elementary, Gene Ward Elementary and Keller Elementary schools have joined the program. And at Rose Warren Empowerment Elementary, students will grow ingredients for dishes like pizza or salsa, which they'll whip up under chef guidance. The Warren project also includes a sensory garden for autistic children and an ABC flower garden. Look out! Little Tommy's rocking a Cuisinart! Kitchen appliance manufacturers and landscape architects have donated to the cause as well, and volunteers include top chefs (Luciano Pellegrini, John McDermott, Thomas Trevathan, John Simmons) and master gardeners (University of Nevada Reno's Angela O'Callahan and Karen Johnson). Twohig's been hitting up everyone from the FDA to the Southern Nevada Health District for grants, too. But you can plant a seed as well. Visit to get involved. "We want to get families back to the dinner table," Twohig says. "We want to make a difference in communities."

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