Maria Aurora Torres moved to National City, San Diego, from Mexico as a teenage bride in the 1960’s, and dedicated her life to taking care of her expanded family and others. In her forties, she was diagnosed diabetic, and later developed a high potential for kidney failure. She learned that the way she was cooking her traditional dishes was killing her and her family.

"I want people to learn that they don't have to be diabetic. I want to start with me and my family."

Maria graduated from the program as a Kitchenista and began her journey of change. Together, the Kitchenistas are creating new traditions by changing eating habits. 

There is much to overcome in a community with "fast food on every corner". National City has one of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in San Diego and the state of California.  Ron Morrison, Mayor of National City, asks “how do we work together among all the complexities and make this happen for our community?”

The Kitchenistas' stories reflect the many challenges community face and gave inspiration to others for making healthier choices for their families and building stronger, empowered communities. 

Daisy, an 8-year old, attended a school program at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center in National City, and encouraged her grandmother, Maria, to visit and learn new healthy cooking and eating techniques. Maria met Patty Corona-Morales, a community leader and volunteer at Olivewood Gardens, who invited her to join the program, Cooking for Salud!

"We start this like a dream…"