In Mexico, Local Leaders Learn to Cook Healthy Foods and Use It in Ministry

Training sessions and workshops are preparing them to share their knowledge.

Sebastián Márquez and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News
In Mexico, Local Leaders Learn to Cook Healthy Foods and Use It in Ministry
Local church ministries leaders wear their apron for a group photo during a recent healthy eating training session led by Alimentos COLPAC experts at the Central Adventist church in Mexico City, Mexico. [Photo: Alimentos COLPAC]

Hundreds of Seventh-day Adventists from Mexico City and throughout central Mexico recently took part in healthy eating training sessions led by experts from Alimentos COLPAC food company, one of the largest food companies in the Inter-American Division of the Adventist Church.

Health ministries leaders, as well small group ministry, women’s ministries, personal ministries, and other church leaders in the territory of the Central Mexican Union (CMU) of the Adventist Church gathered for the first-ever comprehensive health training initiative to teach about healthy foods and better eating habits among churchgoers and community members.

The main objective of the program was to teach illness prevention and care of the body through the principles of healthy cooking and good nutrition, said Genaro Corral, marketing manager of Alimentos COLPAC and one of the main organizers of the training events.

National statistics show that one of the country’s main challenges is to address and reduce non-transmissible chronic conditions, as more than 70 percent of the population in Mexico is obese, 30 percent suffer from hypertension, and 12 percent have type 2 diabetes.

The weekend training and workshop sessions, coined as “I Will Go Cooking with Hope,” engaged participants in learning the right foods to eat, the nutritional benefits of those foods, how to prevent diseases, and how to eat a plant-based diet.

“We focused on educating Adventist ministry leaders in the culinary arts with its therapeutic uses so that they would be ready to share the classes and knowledge with their friends and neighbors, to bring a message of hope and improve quality of life,” Marisol Brambila, nutritional advisor at Alimentos COLPAC, said.

“We were certain that this was a good evangelistic plan and that by promoting it to small groups it would be attractive to union leaders and church leaders,” Enrique Meza, general manager of Alimentos COLPAC, said. Some church members feel a little embarrassed about inviting others to spiritual gatherings, but inviting their neighbors for cooking classes could be much easier, he explained. “That is why I believe that the church will use these training sessions to invite others so that they can meet God through the health message.”

Alimentos COLPAC has consistently supported the church’s health initiatives, such as “I Want to Live Healthy,” yet this is the first time the food company has organized a specific program in collaboration with the Central Mexican Union, Meza added.

The initiative is something the CMU administration embraced right away as part of the church’s evangelistic initiatives this year,  CMU president José Dzul said. “We saw this project as an additional tool to be used in the ‘houses of hope’ [small groups] and to awaken interest in the church for its emphasis on health.”

Each participant received a kit with a notebook, a nutrition booklet, a cloth for squeezing soy, a children’s activity booklet, and other resources, and they were informed of the dozens of healthy products from Alimentos COLPAC. They were also able to taste several dishes, organizers said.

Juan Rojas, from Mexico City, who attended the sessions, said he was impressed with the large variety of health foods available. “I am very happy to be part of the many who will go and share this message of hope,” Rosas said.

“I really liked the ‘I Will Go Cook with Hope.’ All the information they gave us along with the workshop is very important,” Tere Samudio, a teacher from Toluca, said.

Concepción Méndez, of Leon, Guanajuato, was thankful to Alimentos COLPAC for all the training imparted during the sessions. “I’m thankful that COLPAC provides good products and recipes that benefit our body and prevent diseases,” she said.

Leaders at Alimentos COLPAC are planning to hold more training sessions and workshops across the territory, specifically in the cities of Tijuana, Hermosillo, Chihuahua, Villahermosa, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Montemorelos, Culiacán, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, and Mérida.

About Alimentos COLPAC

Alimentos COLPAC has been operating for 67 years in Mexico and currently has four production plants and nine distribution centers serving the entire country. Each year COLPAC produces more than 10,000 tons (20 million pounds) of food.

Alimentos COLPAC has exported its products to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.

Sebastián Márquez and Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division News