HUNTINGTON - Marshall University will relocate its Department of Dietetics to Huntington's Kitchen in downtown Huntington beginning in January, the university announced Tuesday.
The university will partner with Cabell Huntington Hospital to expand the kitchen and strengthen the commitment to the Tri-State community's nutritional health and wellness, Marshall Interim President Gary White said.
"With more than 120 students, faculty and staff, the Department of Dietetics has served as a site for nutrition education since 1923 and is part of our university's College of Health Professions," White said. "This partnership will advance the missions of both Huntington's Kitchen and Marshall University's dietetics program, as both seek to enhance, promote and improve healthy eating, education and quality of life for residents of Huntington and surrounding areas."
Renovations to Huntington's Kitchen in support of the partnership began last month. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and Huntington Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours event is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 14, at Huntington's Kitchen.
The cost of the merger is being split between the university and the hospital, but the exact cost of bringing the dietetics program to Huntington's Kitchen was not available Tuesday, said Megan Archer, communications specialist with Marshall.
Since 2013, Cabell Huntington Hospital has operated Huntington's Kitchen as a community outreach initiative with the goals of positively impacting the health of the community through the prevention and reduction of diet-related disease through healthy food and cooking education. The facility was originally opened as "Jamie's Kitchen," when celebrity chef Jamie Oliver came to Huntington in 2009 to film his reality TV series "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution."
The dietetics program's current location in Prichard Hall on Marshall's Huntington campus does not have enough space or appropriate equipment for the department's needs, White said.
"This relocation is really a win-win," White said.
"Our faculty will teach and our students will learn in this beautiful facility for years to come. With our new Visual Arts Center right next door, we've seen what it means to have the energy of Marshall students and their classes downtown. It has invigorated the entire strip between campus and the downtown area and we expect the same to be true with this move to Huntington's Kitchen."
Marshall's Visual Arts Center opened inside the former Anderson-Newcomb/Stone and Thomas building in the fall of 2014 and is now the home of Marshall's School of Art and Design, which boasts about 300 students.
"Marshall University is slowly creating a downtown campus," Mayor Steve Williams said in a written statement Tuesday. "The vitality of downtown Huntington has been enhanced immeasurably with the presence of the students. I am grateful for the vision of Interim President Gary White and the Board of Governors. Their actions demonstrate their confidence in the dynamism of the city."
Kevin Fowler, president and CEO of Cabell Huntington Hospital, said Huntington's Kitchen has offered cooking demonstrations, corporate wellness initiatives, educational seminars and information to address chronic diseases since it opened in 2009.
" ... the Kitchen is an extension of Cabell Huntington Hospital's mission of meeting the lifetime health care needs of our community and advancing health care through education," Fowler said in a written statement.
"Our goal is to help our community understand how healthy food choices and food preparation impact conditions such as diabetes and obesity, as well as overall health and wellness. There is no better time than now for Huntington's Kitchen to continue its work while using the requisite resources of one of Marshall University's oldest, most-respected departments."
Dr. Kelli Williams, chair of the dietetics department at Marshall, said the partnership would provide greater visibility for both the hospital and the university.
"This exciting partnership will bring an interactive learning and teaching environment for both our students and the community that can help us reach even more people who wish to live healthier lives through the services provided at Huntington's Kitchen," Kelli Williams said.
Veronica Hordubay, manager at Huntington's Kitchen, said the facility has served over 7,500 individuals since 2013 and she anticipates those numbers increasing once the partnership is established.
"The Kitchen will continue to offer its existing cooking classes and health-related seminars," Hordubay said in the release. "We welcome the addition of Marshall faculty, staff and students, which will make the Kitchen a more robust resource for our community."