CNN names Ceres founder Cathryn Couch as one of its heroes
Look who CNN is hailing nationwide as a community hero.
The network singled out Cathryn Couch of the Ceres nutrition and vocational training program Thursday as a CNN Hero for inspiring teens to provide healthful food, for free, to Sonoma and Marin people fighting serious illnesses. CNN on Thursday posted an online video that features Couch and some of the young people engaged in the program that she created in Sebastopol nearly 10 years ago. The video will air on CNN for several days along with those that will introduce the 24 others selected as the network's 2016 heroes.
In October, network officials will select the Top 10 heroes. News anchor Anderson Cooper will announce those winners on Oct. 26. Americans then will be invited to go online and vote for the person who should become the CNN Hero of the Year. Everyone can vote once a day.
The honoree who receives the most votes will receive a large cash donation for his or her cause and will star in CNN's All-Star Tribute, to air Dec. 11.
Delighted by the acknowledgment, Couch said the exposure on CNN could do much get the word out about Ceres and to “promote the issues we care about.” Already, the program's mission to improve the nutrition of people being treated for cancer and other diseases has been replicated in 11 other communities around the country.
The central goal of Ceres is to help patients improve their health and outlook by eating fresh, organic foods.
Couch says in the two-minute, 28-second CNN Hero video, “When people get sick, their lives become really complicated. Eating well tends to go to the bottom of the list, but it's really critically important.”
About 85 percent of Ceres clients are fighting cancer. Many are low-income. Much of the food that Ceres prepares in Sonoma County and in San Rafael is grown by the volunteers, most of them aged 14 to 19, who also learn kitchen skills through their work with the program.
Ceres now operates a cafe at the Social Advocates for Youth Dream Center, the residential and services center for young people in Santa Rosa.
Couch said every teen who gardens and cooks for Ceres “has had someone say to them, ‘Thank you for helping to save my life.'?”
Since the project started small in Sebastopol in 2007 - Couch and six teens cooked food for four families - it has delivered about 500,000 meals and engaged about 2,300 teens.
Ceres today employs a staff of 25 and operates on an annual budget of $1.9 million.
Couch said she was nominated as a CNN Hero by a Connecticut woman, Sarah Leathers.
She happens to be Couch's sister and founder of the Ceres-trained Healing Meals Community Project.