Initiative Seeks to Tackle Chronic Diseases by Improving Food Access, Nutrition

Across U.S. states, AdventHealth is implementing strategies to improve outcomes.

AdventHealth Kansas and AdventHealth Ottawa
Initiative Seeks to Tackle Chronic Diseases by Improving Food Access, Nutrition
AdventHealth Hope Bus, which seeks to supplement other food pantry services in Franklin County, Kansas, United States. [Photo: AdventHealth Kansas]

March 2024 marks the 51st anniversary of National Nutrition Month, a campaign begun in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics of the United States. In celebration of this health awareness month, AdventHealth continues to expand its efforts to deliver whole-person care to impact the future wellbeing of the communities it serves. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chronic diseases account for 70 percent of all deaths in the U.S., many of which are attributed to poor diet and its chronic aftereffects such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. 

AdventHealth’s Community Benefit team has developed strategies in response to the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, the first time that conference had been held in 50 years. Key focus areas include elevating the work being done to refer those who are food insecure to appropriate services and exploring additional partnerships around food access and nutrition. 

“AdventHealth Ottawa has identified nutrition and healthy eating as one of its top priorities,” said Sheila Robertson, community benefit contractor at AdventHealth Ottawa in Kansas. “We have recently increased our efforts to provide healthy food at community programs, and we have started bringing in the Hope Bus to supplement other food pantry services in Franklin County.”

AdventHealth has also embarked on year three of supporting — financially and otherwise — the Renewed Hope Food Bus, a converted city bus that is often seen at neighborhood events in the Kansas City metro area, such as one that engages refugee children from five African and Asian countries who live nearby. It was part of a weeklong camp focusing on the eight wellness principles of CREATION Life, with a strong emphasis on healthy eating, and particularly fresh produce. 

“We often join the bus at some of their stops to add screenings and promote nutrition education programs,” said Jeanette Metzler, manager of community benefit for AdventHealth in Kansas. 

In 2023, the Hope Bus made three visits to the AdventHealth Ottawa community in Franklin County, which provided healthy food to more than 100 households serving more than 400 people.  

“Our staff contributed more than 30 hours serving at the Hope Bus distributions, where they offered prayer, distributed water and recipes, and assisted individuals to gather, pack, and load food items to take home,” Robertson said.  

AdventHealth Ottawa is currently scheduling Hope Bus visits to occur at least quarterly in 2024.  

In addition to the many healthy-food-focused initiatives that continue to take place in the communities where AdventHealth Shawnee Mission is present, an after-school Healthy Nutrition Club has started at a middle school in Lenexa, Kansas. The program is the result of a request from the school’s principal to provide after-school activities for at-risk students, with support from the AdventHealth Whole Health Institute culinary director and Kansas State Research and Extension. 

“Also, while we have a Healthy Heart Ambassador program focused on blood pressure, we are also working on plans to support other evidence-based programs for diabetes and other chronic diseases,” Metzler said. 

The original version of this story was posted by the Mid-America Union Conference Outlook.

AdventHealth Kansas and AdventHealth Ottawa