Aetna's 35th Annual African American History Calendar Celebrates People Inspiring Lives Through Food

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Thirteen community leaders from around the country featured

HARTFORD, Conn. – African Americans have a long history of tradition and influence on the collective food culture in the United States. However, the influences extend beyond recipes and food and into building healthier communities, as demonstrated in Aetna's 2016 African American Calendar titled, "The Flavors of Community: African Americans Inspiring Lives Through Food."

For 35 years, Aetna (NYSE: AET) has produced the African-American Calendar as an annual tribute to the extraordinary and educational endeavors of African Americans throughout the country.

"African American heritage cooking is part of a larger continuum, which includes the individuals and foods of Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and a variety of points in the Western and Eastern World," said Dr. Jessica B. Harris, award-winning journalist, lecturer, professor and African Diaspora food expert. In the calendar introduction, Dr. Harris goes on to explain, "These food cultures have long shaped the traditions and values of cooking in America – and this history is reflected in the innovation that we see in African American food today."

Aetna CEO and Chairman Mark T. Bertolini said, "Food unites us in many ways. These extraordinary chefs, activists and food experts are using their passion and knowledge of the culinary arts to change perceptions of healthy eating, which creates healthier lives, healthier communities and a healthier world."

The chefs, activists and food experts featured in the 2016 calendar are using food as a way to create and inspire healthy communities. For example, Alex Askew, president of BCAGlobal, (formerly Black Culinary Alliance) in New York City, is using his Kellogg Foundation Fellowship in Leadership and Racial Equity Healing to help young people to understand food traditions and to get excited about healthy eating. Rodney Taylor, Director of Food and Nutrition Services of the Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, started the first farm-to-school program in the country as a way to change the viewpoints on school food.

"Aetna is proud to mark the 35th year of the African American History Calendar," said Floyd W. Green III, Aetna's vice president of Community Relations and Urban Marketing. "This calendar is a way for us to celebrate and showcase the many accomplishments of African American leaders across the country."

Other leaders profiled in the 2016 calendar are:

Tia Berry, manager of the American Heart Association's Simple Cooking with Heart® Kitchen in Baltimore, Maryland that provides heart-healthy cooking classes to the community;

Toni Tipton-Martin, a food and nutrition journalist, author and activist has a foundation in Austin, Texas, that brings families together for local food and healthy activities;

Matthew Raiford, a farmer and chef in Brunswick, Georgia, hosts community-cooking classes at his restaurant, The Farmer & The Larder;

Leah Chase, has spent the last 70 years in the kitchen of her New Orleans restaurant, creating healthy and flavorful creole cuisine;

Chef James Robinson, founder of Kitchen Cray, a catering and event company in New York City, has developed community initiatives such as a culinary arts program for children;

Elle Simone Scott, from Brooklyn, NY, created SheChef, a mentoring program that helps young women in New York City, Detroit, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston learn more about getting involved with culinary arts;

Haile Thomas, a fifteen-year-old health advocate, created The HAPPY Organization, Inc., which provides healthful programs to youth in Tucson, Arizona.

Bryant Terry, a chef, author and educator in Oakland, California, uses cultural and artistic influences to in the food justice movement, which aims to give everyone access to healthy and affordable food;

Kashia Cave, a chef in Meriden, Conn., founded My City Kitchen, Inc., a community program that teach kids how to plan menus, grocery shop and cook a healthy meals; and

Maxcel Hardy III, created the One Chef Can 86 Hunger Foundation, to educate families in Miami, FL and New York City about how to access healthy and affordable food.

The 2016 calendar is available for $4 by calling 860-273-0509. The online version of the calendar is available at the following website:

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 46.5 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see

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