Q+A with Bill Berenson, President, Great Lakes Region, Aetna; Cooking up Change Co-Chair

October 29, 2014

“An investment in the future of our children”

Cooking up Change Chicago is tomorrow! In preparation, we’re speaking with some of the leaders who make this program happen every year. Today we’re featuring Cooking up Change co-chair Bill Berenson, of Aetna. Aetna is one of our invaluable Cooking up Change sponsors. 

1) Why is Cooking up Change important, especially this year?

Cooking up Change is our future. When you look at the students and their passion around a nutritious, culinary experience — it’s really what our future is all about. To become a part of that and to help promote it so it can be a viable thing for many years to come — that’s exciting.

2) What sparked your involvement with Cooking up Change?

I had attended one of the events a couple years ago. Aetna has a mission to improve the health and lives of people in this country. As an enterprise, Aetna has been a strong supporter of Cooking up Change. When I went to the event and saw firsthand what Cooking up Change was all about, it was an exciting and passionate experience for me.

With the obesity epidemic, medical costs are such a high part of our GDP. Supporting Cooking up Change is an investment. It’s helping a program where students can learn the value of nutrition, and then put something out there that other students can enjoy.

3) What was your past experience like at Cooking up Change?

I saw students who were proud of what they were doing. I saw individuals who were going from station to station and tasting food that was impressive. I saw energy. I saw commitment. I saw a serious component around the nutritional value of the food, which, to me, is what Cooking up Change is all about.

4) How do Cooking up Change students inspire you?

Passion is the first word that comes to mind. The students clearly understood what they were doing was adding nutritional value, but they were passionate about explaining it. They represented the dish that they had cooked and explained why it would be good for you, but also why it would taste good. Whether they knew it or not, they became teachers in their own right.

5) Cooking up Change is…

Our future. It is an investment in the future of our children, teaching them how nutritional value will bring a quality of life to them that will allow them to succeed in almost anything they want to do.

Thank you to Bill Berenson and to Aetna for the ongoing support!

Meet Chicago’s student chefs and be part of the action tomorrow at Cooking up Change Chicago: Purchase tickets or make a donation.