OAK LAWN. Ill. — The Ronald McDonald House in Oak Lawn is just across the street from Advocate Children’s Hospital. And on Tuesday, the house chef, Kevin, is getting some pointers from Shawanna Kennedy from Common Threads, a national non-profit which promotes kids and families’ national cooking and wellness.

“My grandmother was an amazing cook. My mom as well. I found most joy when I was cooking and teaching people,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s penchant for cooking came from her time with her mom and grandma, recipes filled with affection.

“That’s one of the reasons I joined the Common Threads team. Cooking with love and food brings us together,” one participant said.

Common Threads is now partnering with Advocate’s Healthy Active Living program developed by Pediatrician Dr. Lori Walsh.

Walsh said the preferred approach these days is mind and body. Veggies, fruits, whole grains, healthy oils and proteins, nuts, beans, fish and chicken combined with a nice size portion of an integrated whole life perspective. Her teams consist of resident pediatricians, nutritionists, and behavioral psychologists.

​According to the Centers for Disease Control since the start of the pandemic childhood obesity and other associated health factors have only increased. In many areas of Chicago, food deserts persist.

Just one example: Whole Foods in the Englewood neighborhood, where residents fought for years to bring in, announced it will be closing in the next few months.

​Healthy Active Living Clinics, one at Advocate Christ Medical Center and the other at Advocate Lutheran General in Park Ridge introduces moms, dads and the kids to a long-term dietary decision over multiple visits and not cramming them into the regular old doctor’s office visit.

As someone who grew up on the city’s South Side who went on the graduate from Southern Illinois University, Kennedy says she is on a mission to dispelling the myth that eating healthy is expensive.