Coming Together to Bring Food and Nutrition Education to Urban Community
Posted: November 7, 2012
November 2012 Written By Dana Palermo
Three organizations, including Fresh Grocer in The Shoppes at La Salle, Penn State Extension Nutrition Links, and La Salle University’s Nutrition Program, have come together to bring an established Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) program into the urban community surrounding La Salle University in North Philadelphia. The results thus far have been not only promising for future courses in this area, but inspiring as well.
The month of September brought fresh picked apples, beautiful fall foliage, and plenty of recruitment at Fresh Grocer in The Shoppes at La Salle. With Fresh Grocer’s overall mission of “providing high quality perishables in an urban environment,” they have been an imperative part of building this program in North Philadelphia. Good nutrition starts in the grocery store. Thus, that’s where we started recruiting. Over a 4-day recruitment period we had over 60 registered participants! A big thank-you goes out to Fresh Grocer’s management team including Tom Hepp, Store Manager, and Carly Spross, Marketing Director for all of their efforts and donations to this program.
The Penn State Extension Nutrition Links federally funded program is provided at no charge and targets care-givers of children aged 19 and younger who also receiving either SNAP, free or reduced meals at school, or WIC assistance. Can you believe that 1 in every 4 children in 2012 is obese? The obesity epidemic will not be solved overnight, but this program can help to teach parents and care-givers alike what to buy, feed, and cook for their families.
On the morning of Friday, October 5th, Nutrition Education Advisor, Luz Stella Velencia, headed the first of 7 weekly classes in La Salle University’s newly renovated food lab. Alongside her stood Dietetic Intern, Dana Palermo from La Salle University as well as Victoria Castelli, Intern Preceptor and Coordinated Program Director at La Salle University making sure all ran smoothly.
Over the past 5-weeks, participants have learned how to read food labels and make better choices in the grocery store. A couple added bonuses included the cooking demonstrations, recipe handouts, and one-on-one nutrition counseling sessions given by Nutritionist, Dana Palermo.
The success of the ladies that are participating week by week is phenomenal. Every week, these ladies come with new ideas and questions and more pep in their step than the last week. On top of that, the women that have chosen to participate in the nutrition counseling have all already lost weight from their initial weigh-in, giving them more confidence to keep up the great work. Every week, shopping, cooking, and living a healthier life gets easier for these women because of the hard work that the participants themselves have put in, as well as the persistence of the team who is making this program a success.
At the end of this course, a graduation will be held for all the participants. In January 2013, new recruitment efforts will begin with a wider range in the urban community to increase participation levels and more importantly increase health in the urban parts of North Philadelphia. All individuals meeting the requirements are welcome to participate. Look for recruiters in the Fresh Grocer entrance as well as flyers throughout North Philadelphia and come join the fun! For further questions, please contact Vicki Castelli at (215)991-2159.