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As With the Knicks and LeBron James, East Harlem Nonprofit Tangles with Ohio for the Prize

By DNAinfo Staff on July 7, 2010 1:14pm  | Updated on July 8, 2010 6:22am

By Gabriela Resto-Montero

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

EAST HARLEM — Just like with LeBron James and the Knicks, the only thing standing between the Nourishing Kitchen of New York and a $25,000 grant is Ohio.

The Kitchen's Junior Chefs Program, which teaches kids between the ages of 6 and 14 about healthy cooking, is neck-and-neck with an Ohio nonprofit, Power Up 4 Fitness, to win a Post Grant for Good Health.

"Right now the program is not funded," said Gina Puzzanghera, the executive chef and director of the Nourishing Kitchen, which runs the Junior Chefs program.

"It would really allow us to make sure these kids have an opportunity to learn about healthy food," Puzzanghera said.

Supporters can vote for the Junior Chefs program online at the Post website through July 12.

The Nourishing Kitchen of NYC provides emergency food assistance in East Harlem with a focus on healthy, affordable cooking.

This spring, the kitchen handed out 100 pounds of free produce in just 11 minutes at 116th Street and Lexington Avenue.

Since last summer, the Junior Chefs program has taken small groups of kids from low-income homes through five-weeks of cooking and health classes.

Apart from the Ohio group, the Kitchen faces competition from eight other nonprofits, including the Patch Adams Free Clinic in Philadelphia, which focus on improving community health.

The Junior Chefs program is the only New York-based nonprofit in the running.

"All the charities are very worthy charities," Puzzanghera said. "But we're New Yorkers, we have to stick together."

The winner of the grant will be announced July 22.