Providing nutritious food is at the core of what we do. Many studies have shown a link between hunger and chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Heart healthy choices like fresh produce are often the most expensive at the grocery store, and the most expensive for food shelves to provide.
Last year, we brought together a group of hunger- relief partners to focus on chronic disease prevention through nutrition education. Displays were created to promote healthy choices, like cooking meals from scratch, decreasing sugar and sodium intake, and increasing the use of spices, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. Sample meals and recipes were included from a variety of cultures to connect with the diverse audiences of our partners.
Our staff Nutrition Outreach Specialist, Karena Gacek, says “While visiting our food shelf partners, many clients were surprised to see their traditional foods on display. I had one client tell me that she was happy to see that her traditional meal of corn tortillas, avocado, beans, and chicken was an example of how to eat healthy from the food shelf.”
The Chronic Disease Toolkits have been well- received by the community. Many partners have used the toolkits in their facility to help create awareness among staff, volunteers, and clients around healthy eating. Due to their popularity, additional displays will be created featuring: making a healthy plate, choosing healthier beverages, and increasing physical activity. We remain committed to helping our communities improve their health through nutritious and culturally appropriate food.