The “Eat Right When Money’s Tight” food resource management health forum and health fair convened at the Logan Heights Branch Library in southeastern San Diego on the afternoon of Friday, October 24, 2014. The event took place in celebration of Food Day, a national campaign for healthy, affordable food.
The event was organized by the County Nutrition Action Partnership (CNAP), a collaborative team of public health professionals and community stakeholders focused on reducing health disparities and food insecurity within San Diego’s low-income communities. While thousands of events take place on Food Day to inspire Americans to improve their diets and our food system, CNAP partners presented a health forum and fair that discussed several additional ingredients that fit into the recipe for food resource management success.
Technology, computer literacy, and financial education were among the main topics explored at the health forum and fair, empowering low-income families to access technology, manage their food resources, and gain additional self-sufficiency skills.
Community members know they can get reliable information and resources from the Logan Heights Branch Library, making it an ideal location for the “Eat Right When Money’s Tight” food resource management health forum and health fair. The idea to host the forum and fair at the library sprouted this past summer, when Logan Heights Branch Library conducted a pilot project to engage adults with kids participating in the Summer Food Service Program. The Summer Food Service Program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session, and is offered at several community sites, including the Logan Heights Branch Library. Because the parents bring their kids to eat but are not eligible themselves, the library offered an opportunity to engage the parents in lessons on preparing nutritious meals.
While their kids ate, parents learned about a new food assistance website, EatFresh.org. EatFresh.org was created by the San Francisco Health and Human Services Agency and nonprofit Leah’s Pantry as an online database to assist families find healthy, affordable recipes.
As these classes were held at Logan Heights Branch Library, the library branch manager, Eileen Labrador, noticed something interesting. Participants were giving feedback that they were enjoying the opportunity to gain computer literacy skills just as much as the nutrition education.
“Introducing health and wellness programming at the Logan heights Branch Library is crucial because the population we serve is categorized as an underserved community. Families are faced with the dilemma of not having financial security to buy nutritional meals, and sadly enough, some families deal with not having food every day,” Labrador said as she opened the forum. “Our collaboration is vital because we can make a positive difference for the communities we serve by working and standing together as opposed to alone.”
Partners that participated in the forum and fair included the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, Logan Heights Branch Library (San Diego Public Library), National University School of Nursing, Computers to San Diego Kids, Leah’s Pantry, University of California Cooperative Extension, Home Start, Inc., and BAME Renaissance Community Development Corporation. While the health fair and forum took place, there was also a food distribution station made possible by Feeding America San Diego. Families trickled into the Community Room to listen in on the forum, enjoy a bag of fresh produce and bread, and browse the recipes and food assistance resources made available at the library between the fair and forum.
Forum topics discussed included nutrition education, diabetes prevention, CalFresh enrollment, job coaching, financial education, computer literacy, and other topics related to food security and overall self-sufficiency.
The messages shared at the “Eat Right When Money’s Tight” food resource management health forum and health fair were intended to align with the County of San Diego’s larger initiative Live Well San Diego, which envisions healthy, safe and thriving communities.
The forum and fair kicked off a new phase for CNAP to provide obesity prevention resources that connect to the health, social, economic, and financial wellbeing of low-income families. Beginning in January, CNAP partners will host an “Eat Right When Money’s Tight” workshop series to build off the momentum that began with the forum and fair on Food Day. For more information on this upcoming series, contact Eileen Labrador.
CNAP and its events are made possible by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency, through the Chronic Disease and Health Equity Unit’s Healthy Works program. Funding for CNAP is provided in part by the California Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch (NEOPB). NEOPB is a public health effort working with hundreds of partners and organizations to empower low-income Californians to live healthier lives through good nutrition and physical activity. Funding is from USDA SNAP-Ed, known in California as CalFresh. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. For CalFresh information, call 2-1-1. For important nutrition information, visit www.CaChampionsForChange.net.