The Food Network is working hard on behalf of kids and families—again. The network’s semiannual food and wine festivals (February in Miami and October in New York City) are indeed star-studded events, with the most famous celebrity chefs and some of the best food and wine on the planet. Even so, their affordable educational programming for kids and families continues expanding and growing more meaningful to keep pace with the rising incidence of childhood obesity.

In February, a highlight of the Kellogg’s Kidz Kitchen Fun and Fit as a Family, an offshoot of the main festival, was a panel that featured celebrity chef Rachael Ray; cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, author of The South Beach Diet; Audrey Rowe, U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy administrator for special nutrition programs; and Pat Nicklin, managing director for Share our Strength®. The four exchanged ideas about childhood obesity and malnutrition for over 2 hours in a public forum. Among the topics discussed were how their various organizations are delivering education and programming about cooking and healthy nutrition choices.

Ray is an extraordinarily well-informed and passionate advocate for the cause, as evidenced by the very active role she takes in her nonprofit organization, Yum-o®. By teaching families to cook, feeding hungry kids and funding cooking education and scholarships, Yum-o empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking.

If you live in or near New York City and are interested in catching some of the kids’ programming at next month’s Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival October 7–10, check out the Food Network website at www.nycwineandfoodfestival.com/2010/events.php