The Fresh Focus team feels that the best way to personalize your plate is by using a recipe from the Healthy Teaching Kitchen (HTK) program. The HTK is an educational resource within VHA Nutrition and Food Services (NFS) to promote nutrition and wellness.

Episode 26 of the Fresh Focus podcast highlights the benefits of the HTK program from VA dietitians.

Beginning in 2007, this innovative program added an experiential learning option to complement traditional nutrition counseling visits. Prior to COVID19, HTK was offered at 119 VA sites and has a presence in 48 states within the U.S. Since the start of the pandemic, HTK has been transitioning to virtual classes and is currently offered online at 61 sites. The number of Veterans attending HTK has almost tripled over the last 5 years, reaching over 7,000 Veterans, with ample opportunity to grow.

HTK is dedicated to improving Veterans’ skills and confidence to prepare healthy meals. The overall goal of HTK is to increase Veterans’ self-efficacy with regards to food selection and preparation in a home-like environment, and to develop and nurture healthy, life-long eating habits.

Benefits of participating in a HTK:

  • Takes nutrition education and delivers it in a practical way.
  • Easy for Veterans to apply to their day-to-day meals.
  • Encourages Veterans to reconnect with the enjoyment of eating.
  • Builds confidence to cook and make it a normal process of your day.
  • Opportunity to experiment with encouragement and peer support.

The HTK program can jump start your journey of seeing how food can taste different when you pair with other flavors and find fun ways to try something new that adds variety in a delicious way to your meal and snacks.

More information

To learn more about your local HTK program and what classes are available to you, reach out to your local PACT Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or Nutrition and Food Services Department.

You can also find recorded classes on YouTube: type “VA Healthy Teaching Kitchen” in the search bar, and subscribe and start your journey of seeing how food can taste different when you pair with other foods and flavors.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition and health. We are all unique with different bodies, goals, backgrounds and tastes! Celebrate National Nutrition Month®’s theme this year and have fun “personalizing your plate” with the HTK program!


Megan Rivenburg is a dietetic intern with the Marion VA Healthcare system.

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