March 2023 marked the 50th anniversary of National Nutrition Month, a campaign begun in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in the United States. The 2023 theme was “Fuel for the Future.” As the month that’s focused on helping consumers make informed food choices draws to a close, AdventHealth health system continued to ramp up the work it is doing to deliver whole-person care that will forever impact the future well-being of the communities it serves.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases account for 70 percent of all deaths in the U.S. Further, the CDC points out, poor diets lead to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
“One cannot talk about the importance of good nutrition without considering those for whom food insecurity is a daily fact of life,” Andrew Mwavua, AdventHealth Community Advocacy executive director, said. “Volunteering time and resources, AdventHealth team members are showing up in their communities in ways that help others feel whole.”
In one example of how those partnerships are benefitting the Central Florida area, where AdventHealth has more than 20 hospitals and Emergency Rooms (ERs), One Heart for Women and Children is one of eight nonprofits sharing in the distribution of more than US$1.2 million in 2022 community impact grants.
Grants are awarded annually by AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division to bolster the work that organizations are doing to improve the health of residents in their communities. With an emphasis on providing access and equity in local food deserts, One Heart for Women and Children plans to use the grant to support a full-time outreach manager who will coordinate nutritious food delivery to 55,000 residents, as well as provide connections to other services.
In the meantime, AdventHealth’s Community Benefit team is working to develop strategies in response to the Fall 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.
In Kansas, AdventHealth Shawnee Mission has embarked on a second year of supporting — financially and otherwise — the Renewed Hope Food Bus, a converted city bus that often can be seen at neighborhood events, such as a recent one engaging children from apartment complexes with refugees from five African and Asian countries. 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.
“Now that the weather is better, we will be joining the bus at some of their stops to add screenings and promote nutrition education programs,” Jeanette Metzler, manager of community benefit for AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, said. “Also, while the Healthy Heart Ambassador program is focused on blood pressure, we are working on plans to support other evidence-based programs for diabetes and other chronic diseases.”
In addition to the many healthy food–focused initiatives that are ongoing in the communities served by AdventHealth Shawnee Mission, an after-school Healthy Nutrition Club started March 30 at a middle school in Lenexa, leaders reported.
“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 K-State Research and Extension,” they explained. “For those who may be searching for ways to improve their own nutritional well-being, AdventHealth offers a wealth of resources, including more than 200 plant-based recipes along with some additional food for thought on CREATION Life’s Nutrition page,” they said.