Nourishing Generations Educational Project is dedicated to educating children, families, and community members of all ages about cooking and eating a healthy, whole foods diet, and enjoying regular exercise – to maximize optimal health and minimize disease.
We are a nonprofit 501 (c) 3 corporation that offers dynamic classes that encompass nutrition education, healthy food preparation, culinary skills, and fitness. The participants in our program include elementary schools students, foster youth, pregnant and postpartum teens & young women, and the parents of our elementary school students.
We offer individual classes and six to twelve-week comprehensive programs targeting positive diet/lifestyle intervention for children, teens and adults.
We partner with local and national organizations and agencies such as Federal SNAP, Sutter Health, Santa County Dept Public Health, Dignity Health, Encompass Community Services, Siena House, Live Earth Farm, Second Harvest Food Bank, and many others, to combine resources that allows us to maximize the effectiveness of our program.
Karen Haralson, MA CNC
Karen is the director and operations coordinator for NG. She is a certified Nutrition Consultant and Educator. She holds a Masters of Humanities and Leadership from New College of California, program Culture, Ecology, and Sustainable Community, with a concentration in Holistic Nutrition. She is a graduate of Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts in Santa Cruz, CA. Karen has a passion for nutrition and health and is dedicated to educating clients and the public in improving the health and well being of the individual and our food systems. Karen manages and coordinates all aspects of NG program preparation and implementation, including scheduling with staff and school, generating proposals, procuring funding, designing budgets, developing and evaluating curriculum, training staff, networking with community and national agencies.
Rebecca Mastoris, Certified Natural Chef, Certified Nutrition Consultant
Rebecca has been cooking professionally for children and adults for over 40 years. She prepared healthy meals for children at the YWCA, Watsonville, CA for 14 years and ran a restaurant for 4 years. She is an instructor of culinary arts at Bauman College in Santa Cruz, where she instructs chef students and teaches community cooking classes. She currently co-operates a catering business, and works as a private chef. Rebecca now lives her passion of cooking and teaching children about healthy eating through her participation and supervision of other chefs in our NG classes. She oversees all the NG cooking activities from recipe creation, recipe testing for kid friendliness to overall management of the cooking activities.
Holly Cagliero, CNC
Holly Cagliero is a Certified Nutritional Consultant and a graduate of Bauman College. She attended UC Santa Cruz and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. She is passionate about working with children, and is experienced in this field from her work as a tutor and as a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Santa Cruz County. She believes that teaching nutrition, cooking skills, and the importance of physical activity to children can improve overall wellbeing throughout life and reduce risk factors for disease. She is extremely excited to be a part of the Nourishing Generations team.
Mary Simkin, Certified Natural Chef
Mary Simkin is a Certified Therapeutic Natural Chef and a Bauman College Honors Graduate. Mary has been cooking for over 20 years, and currently is a Vegan / Vegetarian Natural Chef cooking for families in the Santa Cruz & Bay Area,with an emphasis on "Health & Happiness" for those families.
Mary also has a BBA and over 20 years experience in the Tech industry. She is also a mother of two children.
Alexis graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Maryland and has been teaching children since 1972. She has lived in Santa Cruz since 1979 and has taught in the Live Oak School District since 1984. Recently retired, she is so happy to be joining NG in order to share her enthusiasm for making healthy food choices and the importance of being healthy and fit.
Mario and Jessica Ballesteros
Mario and Jessica Ballesteros are the owners and operators of Ballesteros Catering. As a self-taught life-long chef, Mario has been in the kitchen since he was a young boy. Together with his wife, Jessica, they pursue their passion for good food and cooking and share their enthusiasm and skills with the children in our programs.
Lauren graduated with a degree in Psychology and has a passion for living a healthy lifestyle through nutritional education, physical fitness, and mental wellbeing. She has volunteered for many local nonprofits and currently volunteers on our marketing team where she contributes to our blog, newsletter, and social media.
Jen Nomi, CNC
Jen is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and Bauman College Honors Graduate. She is also a Certified GAPS Practitioner. Overcoming late stage Lyme disease and co-infections was Jen’s catalyst to learn how to use multifaceted dietary and lifestyle changes to support her full recovery. Her post graduation goals included teaching clients how to use food as medicine for optimal health, encourage and help those affected by Lyme, and to work with children in her local community. She currently works with clients via her nutrition consulting practice. Jen’s believes optimal nutrition, quality sleep and relaxation habits, time in nature, and natural movement are key factors for a happy and healthy life. Jen works with NG as a nutrition educator, fitness instructor, and social media support.
Leeann has 35 years of restaurant experience, starting in her native Connecticut where she learned every aspect of the business during her time catering and working in a 5-star restaurant. After moving to California, she continued her successful catering career and, for a time, owned and operated a restaurant at Lake Tahoe. Leeann joined NG in 2017. She is a valuable member of our Team who brings her culinary skills and generous heart to every class. She loves to cook and to share her skills with children so that they too can discover the joy of cooking and creating healthy meals. “It fills my heart to see them learning about cooking and good nutrition”.