Agriculture, Food, Nutrition

Recipe for Success Foundation

Quick Facts

aka Recipe for Success

Houston, TX


Since 2005, Recipe for Success Foundation has worked to combat childhood obesity by changing the way our children understand, appreciate and eat their food, and by educating and mobilizing the community to provide healthier diets for children. The Foundation strives to create a culture where nutritious food is shared, appreciated, and celebrated. Its signature, hands-on food curriculum has empowered more than 30,000 children with the knowledge and skills they need to lead healthier lives. Its efforts to make healthy food appealing and available to everyone include Houston's Hope Farms and award-winning national programs like Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™, farmers marKIDS, Eat It! Food Adventures children's cookbooks and the VegOut! 30-Day Challenge. In a recent survey of the Texas Department of Public Health Region 6 (which includes the Houston area), researchers identified that nearly 50% of 4th graders were overweight or obese, the highest rate of all Public Health Regions in Texas. Research suggests that food attitudes and weight patterns are set for life by age eleven, and that experiential learning presents the most successful model for change.

Ruling Year


Founder and CEO

Mrs. Gracie Cavnar

Main Address

P.O Box 56405

Houston, TX 77256 USA


combat childhood obesity, seed to plate education, nutrition education, kids cooking, kids gardening





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Nutrition Programs (K40)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seed-to-Plate-Nutrition Education

VegOut! with Recipe for Success

Hope Farms TM & Rolling Green Market

Farmers MarKIDS

Eat It! Food Adventures © Cookbooks

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Charting Impact

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What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

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What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Recipe for Success aims to prevent childhood obesity and encourage long term health by altering the way our children understand, appreciate and eat their food, and by educating and mobilizing the community to provide healthier diets for children.

In Houston, our goal is to expand our signature Seed-to-PlateNutrition Education™ to every elementary school in the 13-county region, and to empower Houston parents and caregivers with the tools they need to provide healthier diets for their children. We conduct robust community education campaigns, publish books and videos, and collaborate to foster urban agriculture and solve food access solutions with projects like the VegOut! Challenge, the Eat It! Food Adventures children's book series and television show, Hope Farms urban agriculture and Rolling Green Market.

Now that we have scaled our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ program delivery and support, our broader goal is to ensure that every community in the country is aware of it and has easy affordable access to it.

Our vision is that Recipe for Success will be widely respected for
establishing a national model that promotes healthy eating as the norm and creates a culture where nutritious food is shared, appreciated, and celebrated.

Nutrition Education
We make healthy food fun with our signature Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ curriculum for students developed with help from professional chefs, gardeners, nutritionists and teachers. The largest program of its kind, RFS has reached over 30,000 children with an integrated schedule of classes in the garden and kitchen. We have documented: significant improvements in nutrition knowledge, increases in consumption of fruits and vegetables, and a greater willingness to try new fruits and vegetables. In 2010, RFS was asked by the current administration to bring our successful programs to national scale prompting the development of Affiliate Partnerships which launched in 2012. S2P Programs are briskly expanding to every school district in the Houston area, and to schools from coast to coast who have become Recipe for Success Affiliate Partners.

Community Call to Action
The VegOut! Challenge supports efforts for families and individuals to eat healthier by making it an adventure, the same way we entice kids to try healthy foods. VegOut! is a year-round advocacy promotion supported by a dedicated website that culminates every March with a 30 Ways in 30 Days Challenge to eat thirty different vegetables within the month. The Challenge launched in March 2013 when thousands of kids, adults, employee groups and families accepted the challenge to eat more veggies, which meant that National Nutrition Month reached entire new levels of healthy eating awareness in Houston and beyond.

Urban Agriculture and Food Justice
Hope Farms will transform unused urban property into fully functional, organic farms, designed to generate significant food crops in the midst of Houston's recognized "food deserts" and provide small business incubation and workforce readiness training for urban youth. These plots will be owned by new urban farmers who are supported by training, mentoring and small business incubation provided by established agricultural, business and academic partners.

The Rolling Green Market is designed to deliver significantly reduced-priced, fresh fruits and vegetables directly to families who are now marooned in identified food deserts, or who are otherwise considered to be suffering from nutritional insecurity.

Recipe for Success is determined to fight marketing with marketing in order to promote healthy eating attitudes and normalize healthy eating attitudes and habits. We are developing products in print, online, mobile and broadcast formats. We established S2P Press to publish a variety of books that celebrate and empower healthy choices. Our first, Eat it! Food Adventures with Marco Polo Volume One: Leaving Home, by Gracie Cavnar was released in 2012 to rave reviews and went on to win eleven prestigious publishing awards.

A free downloadable curriculum designed to to teach children financial literacy skills and transform their garden produce into a business.

Our organization benefits from an active board of directors, a community advisory board, chefs advisory board, science advisory board and teacher advisory board along with hundreds of volunteers. Our budget has grown from $250,000 in 2005 to $1,000,000 in 2013/14 supported by individual and corporate gifts, grants and earned income. Our program reach has multiplied exponentially with the newly available Affiliate Partnerships which bring our nutrition education delivery to national scale.

Because researchers, NIH and the USDA all recommend that a powerful tactic to combat obesity is to increase consumption of fresh produce and to teach young children the importance of eating fresh whole food, that is what we focus our efforts on rather than things like unreliable BMI measurements and such. RFS programs have documented improved knowledge, increases in daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, improvements in attitudes towards fruits and vegetables, and increases in willingness to try new fruits and vegetables, through the use of a self-report survey that includes items from a vigorously validated and reliable SPAN (Surveillance of Physical Activity and Nutrition) Survey, the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in Wisconsin School Survey, and unique RFS items. Surveys are implemented at the beginning and end of each school year.

We see an average 30% increase in the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables after just one school year of participation. Furthermore, students modified behavior and attitudes have impacted families' activities and food choices, affecting a broad cross-section of the communities served. Parents report that their kids are now cooking at home, turning away from foods they have learned are unhealthy, and they display a solid awareness of what healthy eating is all about. Children are surprising themselves by trying, and even liking, vegetables that they would never touch before. Teachers are reporting improved behavior and attention spans in class. One fourth-grader recently admitted, “We ate [broccoli] last week in our class when we made Stir Fried Tofu and vegetables. That was my first time, I think, to eat tofu and I liked it!" By helping children adopt healthy eating habits at a young age, RFS strives to prevent the onset of childhood obesity and its co-morbidities.

We began programming in five geographically and ethnically diverse Houston ISD Elementary Schools in the fall of 2006, where we tested our theories, fine-tuned our delivery, developed our Seed-to-Plate Nutrition Education™ curriculum and measured our results, which were impressive. After eight years, we have taught over 30,000 children about making healthy food choices and the skills they need to support those decisions for life.

We developed an extensive train the trainer S2P Instructor certification and online curriculum support site for our Affiliate Partners, which offers all 320 of our lesson plans, suggested formats and schedules, expert advice, forums webinars and podcasts to ensure that our programs are delivered with integrity and return the same impressive results we experience first hand..

We have grown to serve over thirty school in Texas either directly or through Affiliate Partnerships and in the summer of 2013, launched our first Affiliate Partnership outside of Texas in Washington DC. We now have adapted our program in several Texas middle schools as an After School Program in 2014.

Our first children's book , Eat It! Food Adventures with Marco Polo has won eleven publishing awards and additional books are underway.

In summer 2014, the Hope Farms program was awarded the Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT grant and is expected to launch in spring 2016. Partnership with the University of Houston and Rice University's schools of architecture have rendered a Design Charrette of possibilities. With major support from Wells Fargo's Neighborhood LIFT program, United Healthcare and others, preparations are moving swiftly forward with on-the ground efforts expected to materialize in spring 2016.

A brand new program, Farmers MarKIDS, launched in Fall 2014, is designed to provide children with the knowledge and tools to transform their garden produce into a farm stand to serve the surrounding community while gaining food and financial literacy through experiential learning. The free, kid-tested toolkit with five lesson plans guides children's efforts in harvesting and pricing produce, promoting, advertising and operating their Farmers MarKIDS stand, and it can be downloaded on the Recipe for Success website.

External Reviews


Recipe for Success Foundation

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?