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The Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s “Cooking for the Health of It”

Chef Barry Infuso says “Good food is good medicine. It will cure all that ails you.”
What Participants are Saying

“This program was great. It keeps people occupied and motivated and teaches them to care about their future. It helps lift depression, and supports people in recovery stay home and get healthy. I came to class and stayed away from the bar.”

“My brother lost weight eating vegetables. Now, he is less depressed and wants to go to the gym, and get out of the house, and go to the Wellness Center. I take the vitamins and feel better. I just use a little spray of olive oil instead of grease. And now we eat more fish.”

“This was a different experience for me-- cooking healthy food and learning to make the things we already liked but in a healthy way. My kids are learning to make new foods and I need to take what I learned and lose more weight. We are learning how to get healthy and this is what the community needs.”

“Cooking for the Health of It” is a promising practice program created by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe’s Centered Spirit Program. Taking an Integrated Behavioral Health approach, the “Cooking for the Health of It” program promotes holistic healing through nutrition and exercise. This program helps people at risk for substance abuse relapse and is a preventive program for suicide.

“Cooking for the Heath of It” allows those enrolled to take part in a professional cooking class. A professional chef, Barry Infuso, comes out two days a week to teach community members healthier eating and cooking. The class learns recipes for healthy food and gets the chance to do hands on lessons. Cooking for the Health of It also focuses on providing the participants with information on plate size and portion control. Participants learn how to replicate the food at home and provide healthy meals for themselves and their families.

Although the class teaches cooking and nutrition, it also addresses other important issues members of the class may face in their everyday living like diabetes, obesity, and alcohol abuse. The participants report feeling better and being more motivated to exercise. The program has started some exciting and positive changes!


The program uses a pre/post survey to conduct evaluations. The survey assesses participant knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors around a variety of health topics including cooking, nutrition, diet, and physical activity. Many of the survey questions were adapted from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Results of the evaluations will be used to assist in designing and implementing future programming.

Program Support

The Cooking for the Health of It program is supported through the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative (MSPI) and is funded by the Indian Health Service. The Program is a collaboration between the Pascua Yaqui Tribal Health Department Programs (Centered Spirit Program, Diabetes Program and Alternative Medicine) and utilizes the Wellness Center kitchen facilities.

Program Details

Classes are currently being offered at the Wellness Center Kitchen in New Pascua Pueblo in Tucson, Arizona. The next series of the program begins on January 10th 2012.

To find out more about this program, please contact:

Jill Fabian
MSPI Project Director
Pascua Yaqui Tribe
7490 S. Camino de Oeste
Tucson, AZ 85757
[email protected]



National Indian Health Board
50 F St NW, Suite 600 | Washington, DC 20001 | Phone: 202-507-4070 | Email: [email protected]