Carl Sobocinski believes in his adopted state of South Carolina.
That’s why this Connecticut-born restaurateur in Greenville is so passionate about the Healthy Kids Initiative. The initiative is part of the free, after-school program for under-resourced children at Greenville’s Frazee Dream Center. “Since I have a group of restaurants in Greenville,” says Sobocinski, the owner of the Table 301 group, “I feel a responsibility to help with the issue of childhood obesity.”
The initiative, which Sobocinski launched in November 2013, aims to combat childhood obesity in South Carolina, a state in which nearly 34% of children between the ages of 10 and 17 are considered overweight or obese. He is creating a classroom curriculum that hones in on healthy eating, one that can be implemented both locally and, eventually, statewide. Every other Friday afternoon, Sobocinski, Simone Clayton (a staff member who is helping to spearhead the program) and one of the Table 301 chefs go to the Frazee Dream Center, where they discuss the importance of good nutrition and exercise, host cooking classes, and take field trips to local grocery stores with a group of 8- to 12-year-old students.
The program, currently in its beta stage, resulted from Sobocinski’s involvement in the Liberty Fellowship, which was formed in South Carolina in 2004 to nurture local leaders and challenge them to move the state forward by taking action in their own communities.
Once the curriculum is set, Sobocinski hopes to convert an old school bus into an educational food truck that can travel to schools around the state, offering hands-on activities and cooking demonstrations.
“We want to convey to kids that by eating well they will not only feel better, but will live longer and perform better, whether it be in sports or in the classroom,” Sobocinski states. By getting kids to buy into the idea of healthy nutrition, he hopes these students will spread the gospel of good eating to their families and friends.